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Smart Kids from Smart Love

Synopsis: This mini love lesson covers love and IQ; the well loved human child; brains and love; love with smarts and success; what is well loved?; and the smart parent challenge.

Love and IQ

Take any two babies of any mammal species (like rats, rabbits, monkeys, apes and humans) and the one most well-loved will likely be the smarter of the two.

For baby rodents the lovingly licked and groomed will learn the psychologist’s maze faster and remember it longer than the one raised by less loving rodent parents.  The cuddled, caressed, petted, kindly fed and comforted when upset larger mammals produce the same kind of results, indicating the better-loved ones are smarter than the lesser-loved ones.

The same is true for every kind of primate where the well-loved appear smarter, handle stress better, are better at social interaction, are more curious, are less susceptible to disease and live longer.  In laboratory tests the well-loved primates figure out puzzles faster, find hidden food sooner, obtain higher social rank and, oh yes, mate more often and make better parents to their own young later.

The Well-Loved Human Child

A human child who receives lots of well demonstrated, loving touch in the form of hugs, cuddles, kisses, pats and strokes and  verbal love especially in the form of affirmation including challenge and encouragement will score higher on IQ tests than children with lesser amounts of loving input.  In research with at least some identical twins, raised separately, the twin who receives well-demonstrated love most likely will have a higher IQ than the one who receives less well-demonstrated love.

Children raised in poverty who receive more love actions in the first years of life are much more likely to go on to graduate from high school and much less likely to become felons than are children raised in poverty who receive less well-demonstrated love actions.  Well-loved children also handle stress better and suffer much less from stress-related illnesses.  This is especially true if in their environment there is loving attention given which helps these children feel securely loved.

Brains and Love

When scientists studying the brains of the well-loved versus the less-loved they have found distinct differences when they studied siblings, identical twins or just matched offspring.  Brain scans and autopsies both show the brains of the better-loved are better built.  Their neurological architecture is more complete, mature and functions more effectively.  Well-loved infants of all mammal species studied tend to keep their neurochemistry better balanced and, thus, tend not to suffer from the disorders of neurochemical imbalances nearly as much as the less well-loved.

Love with Smarts and Success

The well-loved, human child grows up making better grades, attaining higher social status, actualizing talents more, and in just about every category succeeding more than the less well-loved child.  There certainly are exceptions as in the less well-loved child who becomes better loved as an adult.  The well-loved also have higher than average successes.  There also is evidence to suggest that the high IQ children who were not so well-loved are more likely to experience more erratic success patterns.  Especially do the well-loved do well in love relationships more than the less well-loved.  Smarter individuals who focus on learning the skills of love are thought to do much better at love relationships than smarter individuals who do not focus on learning the skills of loving well.

What is Well-Loved?

Being well-loved means receiving ample, skillful demonstrations of the eight groups of behavior, social scientists have discovered, convey love.  It also means that when one is the recipient of these love-conveying behaviors, healthful brain chemistry reactions are triggered which in turn brings about physically and psychologically healthful results.

Briefly stated, these groups of loving behaviors can be titled: Tactile Love, Expressional Love, Verbal Love, Gifting Love, Affirmation Love, Self-Disclosure Love, Toleration Love, and Receptional Love.  (Find more details about these loving behaviors in “Behaviors That Give Love – The Basic Core Four”, “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”, “Parenting Series: How To Love Your Child Better”.  Also important are the mega-psycho-emotional categories of love actions which can be called Connection Love, Nurturing Love, Protective Love and Metaphysical Love. To learn more about all these I suggest you study the definitions, delineations and descriptions of love and love behavior entries at this site; you might start with “A Functional Definition of Love”.

To learn more about helping your child be smarter and come to have a more successful, adult life you might read the following books: How Children Succeed by Dr. Paul Tough; to learn a lot more about helping young children have healthy brains and, therefore, better lives you might read Why Love Matters by Dr. Sue Gerhardt; to get a fuller understanding of the eight major ways of directly and effectively showing love you might read Recovering Love (in Part Two) by me, yours truly.

The Smart Parent Challenge

Let me suggest you contemplate this. Smart loving parents study smart loving parenting.  They look up research, they read, they take courses and classes, go to workshops and they learn every way they can.  A lot is known and more is being discovered all the time, but too many parents don’t avail themselves of the knowledge. Those who do – do better and so do their children.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Are you helping your brain health by being a good receiver of the love that is demonstrated to you, and are you being a good giver of love helping those you love have better brain health?

Bewildering Love Abandonment

Mini-Love-Lesson #258

 Synopsis: In this mini-love-lesson the painful and bewildering issue of sudden, unexpected and unexplained ending of love relationships is explored. Included are common and uncommon reasons and six important things to do about it if it happens to you.

Suddenly Gone

"I thought we were good until the day I came home to an empty house and a note that explained nothing". I can't count how many times I've heard a bewildered and very hurting client tell me that story or something very like it as to why they had come to see me. Some of those had been married for decades, some not long back from their honeymoon or what they thought had been a great vacation. Often their children also had gone with their exiting spouse which, of course, greatly increased the trauma, hurt and anxiety. Quite a few times a departing note had not even been left or they only found divorce papers. Startled, stunned, confused, profoundly hurt, panicked, anxious, angry and totally bewildered were the responses time and time again.

Why does this happen? How can it be prevented? How does one get over it and go forward? How can one make sure it never happens again? Can there ever be trust and love again? These are among the agonizing questions that victims of sudden, love relationship abandonment often struggle with as their feelings of betrayal, self-doubt, loneliness and depression grows (see “The Huge, Hidden Reason So Many Fail at Love?” and “Trust Recovery and Love”).

Other sudden love relationship abandonment situations occur. A young, adult child suddenly breaks off all contact with parents and family offering no explanation. A long-term friend does the same thing. Once in a while, the person doing the abandoning completely disappears from their regular life leaving no forwarding address or way of contacting them. In those situations, there is no way to figure out what occurred or went wrong and no chance to fix it or reconnect. Chances for relationship reconnection, repair, obtaining closure, learning from mistakes, explaining misunderstandings, healing relational wounds, understanding divergent perceptions or doing anything else that is jointly constructive are hopelessly blocked. This can be like having a wound that never completely heals. The person left is left to individually try to recover on their own or with the help of others. The good news is that can be done especially with the right assistance.

Why? The Common and Uncommon Reasons

Coming to understand something of what leads a lot of people to suddenly and surprisingly abandon another without sufficient explanation, in many instances can help a lot. Such an understanding provides a groundwork from which to work toward recovery and reduce the bewilderment factor and its damaging effects. Bewilderment helps keep people stuck and gives them little or nothing constructive to work with. That usually leads to a lot of circular thinking going nowhere and quite a bit of emotional fatigue which ends up growing a sense of hopelessness.

Where possible, I frequently have requested contact with those who have done the sudden leaving and often they have come in for at least one session. Here is what I have seen are the most helpful and useful things to understand about why people will suddenly and shockingly abandon a love relationship.

Secret fear is the most common reason people suddenly and surprisingly leave a love relationship. This can involve a fear of physical violence, psychological conflict, pressure and debasement, being guilt tripped, demeaned, shamed, controlled, dominated, harassed, teamed up on by family and/or friends, blocked and prevented from their own actualization, not being really or healthfully loved , wasting life with the wrong person and a great host of other similar things. Usually involved is a great fear of communicating the fear and expecting one kind or another of a very negative outcome if they did try to communicate their fear. Likewise, they also usually fear trying to explain why they feel the need to leave and they see attempting to do so successfully as impossible, and/or dangerous or likely to be more destructive than constructive.

Secret anger is another common reason many people plan and carry out a sudden revenge-filled attack/escape from what they usually secretly see as having to live a phony, pseudo-love relationship life where they are repeatedly maltreated one way or another. Neglect, demeaning treatment, control, suppression, inadequate love expression, toxic mistreatment, mistrust, misuse and being misperceived are issues often involved also are not getting emotional needs met, repetitious unfair treatment, sex problems, growing hopelessness, psychological, behavioral and physical abuse. Incompatibility, deficient emotional intimacy, excessive criticism, destructive addictions, lack of affirmation and fulfillment, repeated and frequent frustration, high and repeated stressful living, and fidelity issues also are commonly involved in helping resentment, anger and secret desires for vengeful retaliation grow and finally erupt.

Often in talking with the abandoning spouse or love mate, I have heard things like "He, or she, never listened to me before so why should I try to explain myself now". Then there is the "I'm not proud of my reasons so why would I reveal them now". And "They would just try to use what I said against me anyway", “They would try to talk me out of it and my mind is made up”. "It would be useless", and "I refuse to go through any more grief than I already have". "He, or she, knows, I can't believe they don't know, they must be aware of why I left. I think they have known all along and just don't care", and once in a while "I didn't know they didn't know, how could they not know?"

The truth was they usually did not know because the couple’s or family’s communication system was so poor, so phony and so lacking in honest self-disclosure that no one in the system could know the truth about what anyone was feeling, thinking or privately doing. Also, there were statements like "it's just too hard to talk to them about anything personal, I'm lousy at explaining myself, no one ever understands me, it's all my fault because I secretly knew it couldn't ever work". And "I can't tell him, or her, I never really loved them in the first place, that would hurt them too much".

Is There Someone Else?

Secret affairs, both falsely and rightly suspected, are another common reason for the bewildering, sudden, love relationship abandonment occurrence. Also, sometimes it is a desire to go looking for someone else or just for a new and different life. Those often are the hardest reasons to accept. Lots of healthy, self-love action can help the one abandoned (see “Love Affairs: Bad?, Good? And Otherwise” and “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”).

Uncommon Reasons and What They Can Teach Us

 Sometimes the reasons are entirely different from what anyone would have guessed or deduced. Here are some examples. "I was surprised to find out I was pregnant and decided to get a secret abortion. That would never have been accepted where I lived. Instead, I found out I actually wanted to be a mother. I decided to have and raise the baby on my own. I'm quite certain the father would've been a terrible parent and I didn't want his corrupting interference ruining my child, so I just left".

Here is another, "I had done a good job of making sure no one knew that secretly I was a serious addict beginning to deteriorate. I knew that I would never recover if I stayed and especially if they learned of my addiction, so I left suddenly. I'm sure I would relapse if I went back and probably overdose and die soon after they learned of my addiction. And another "I finally accepted that I'm bisexual and I believe my spouse, family, old friends, church and boss never could or would let it alone. They all would just keep trying to condemn and convert me, no matter what. They might even try to have me committed like they did my uncle. So, I decided to save everybody from the hell we all would have gone through, over and over again. Alone I got it all together and disappeared. Now I'm happy with a couple of him and hers in my life and think I'm going to keep it that way."

Here is one more, "If my spouse or his family learned of my coming inheritance, I really believe they would find a way to drag me back to his country where all the laws give husbands all the power over everything a wife owns. So, I’m gone and hiding out until the divorce goes through. So far, I hear they all are glad to be rid of me except for my husband but he is too damned controlling and I was crazy to marry him in the first place. My feelings for him started changing right after the honeymoon so I guess it wasn't real love after all." So remember, the truth can be very different than you, or anyone else, suspects.

What to Do If Sudden, Unexpected Abandonment Happens to You

First, I heartily recommend finding yourself a good, hopefully love-knowledgeable therapist well-versed in relationship issues and especially divorce and break up recovery and/or couple and family reconciliation work, if that is your hope and aim. Therapists who hold advanced credentials in couples, marriage and family therapy are usually best.

Second, with the therapist’s help, decide if you want to have contact with the one who left to at least get some further information about why you were left, but understand, some people give phony reasons (see “Re-Sparking Your Love”, “Dealing with Love Hurts: A Dozen Love Hurts to Know and Grow From”, “Dealing With Love Hurts: First Aid Tips”, “Dealing With Love Hurts: Pain's Crucial Guidance”, “Dealing With Love Hurts: Shared And Unshared Pain”, and“Returning to a Bad Lover? - A Blocking Technique ”).

Third, join a support group or even better a therapy group for divorce recovery or break-up healing and repair. It is amazing how a good group can help with relationship issues.

Fourth, start learning all you can, every way you can about healthy, real, love relating and how it is done (see my book, Recovering Love: Codependency to Co-Recovery and The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman).

Fifth, start a love-relating learnings Journal. Record and review, repeatedly, everything you think, talk and read concerning love-relating for a year. Especially concentrate on the behaviors of love and practicing them (see “Love Is a Performance Art”).

Sixth, get active with others but keep it light at first. Don't isolate, don't center in, or on, just one possible romantic interest for quite a while and don't try to do it all on your own. Others can care, help with healing, offered distraction and useful input that you, on your own, might take forever to get to.

One More Thing: It is advisable to talk all this over with others because doing so helps you use other parts of your brain than when you just think silently, it gives you fresh input, helps embed and discover new ideas, knowledge, etc. And often it gives needed, empowering, human contact. When you do this, we would so much like it if you would tell others about this site and all our mini-love-lessons helping people around the world with their love-relating issues.

As always – Go and Grow with Love.

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: Is it not true that trying to solve love problems all on your own is a lot like trying to reinvent the wheel, the lever and the lightbulb simultaneously, when you could just learn and use what is already known and working for others?

Love Is a Performance Art

Mini-Love-Lesson  #257

Synopsis:  Addressing love as the performance of an art; feelings guided love; is love now learnable?;  what’s to learn; and a comprehensive yet clear and simplified look at the major behaviors of love in only three categories and 12 kinds of action – all are explored here.

Loving Your Art of Love

Some say they truly and dearly love dance.  Others that it is just in them to act and that they love their life in the theater.  Still others insist that they love music and especially performing, and it is just something they feel they cannot live without doing.  Let us suppose that what they say is true.  Now there arises some questions.  Will strong feelings be enough for attaining a degree of competence?  Will it perhaps take strong feelings plus talent to do well at their art?  If someone wants to get good or better at their art, what must they do besides have strong feelings and some talent?

One answer to that question comes from research that concluded they must put in 10,000 hours of learning, practicing and performing.  If they want to be really good, maybe more.  However, if they are unusually talented maybe it will only take 7000 hours.

Why should it be any different for love?  The art of love or loving is a phrase and a title that repeatedly shows up in many of the writings of the great sages, wisdom masters and great students of love down through the ages.  So many emphasize the doing of love and not just the feelings of love.  Even many of the luminaries of love understanding who do not use the phrase "art of love" emphasize the work of doing love as being necessary to succeed at love.

At the feelings level, one’s love of an art motivates involvement in that art.  However, feelings are never enough.  Continuous learning, practicing, experimenting for improvement and a host of other doing it things must be added to be able to do one's art well.

So it is with love.  Yes, love feelings come naturally but mounting evidence shows that good love relating takes learning, practicing, perfecting and performing the actions that send and receive love.  If you want to do love well with a heart-mate, a child, a family member, a friend, with yourself, your deity or anything else, it probably will take learning, studying, practicing and performing the behaviors that "do" love.

A good number of spiritual leaders, philosophers, savants, etc. down through the ages have tried to teach that love is not love at all without the doing.  And now in addition come  results  from a sizable number of social and behavioral scientists doing studies in a wide variety of fields, along with the work of some brain scientists and a considerable number of practitioners of couples counseling, family therapy, and other forms of relational therapy – some who do some pretty good research themselves.  Those results pretty much agree that if you work at a love relationship learning, and practicing the identified successful behaviors of love, you can do it remarkably better.  Even the animal psychologists have data showing much the same thing in primates and several other species.  Higher-order animals that do not learn and practice the showing and receiving behaviors of love almost invariably fail at their relationships with others and become isolates or outcasts among their own kind.

What About Love Guided by Feelings Only?

Lots of people do their love life guided mainly only by their feelings.  They seem to have bought into the romantic myth that love is automatic, and it is all a matter of nature and feelings and perhaps fate or luck or something like that.  Therefore, for many of them, love is cognitively unknowable and unlearnable and they often think feelings will provide all the guidance needed.  Many also believe that trying to learn love will just get in the way.

The success rate of people who do love by those ideas is not encouraging.  That is especially true when compared to the record of people who live by the you have to work at it approach to love.  If you grew up in a highly, healthfully, loving family, you may have subconsciously learned quite a lot about doing love well, and have a pretty good chance of doing so.  If you were not lucky enough to grow up in such a family, purposefully learning and getting good at the "how too’s" of love gives you your best chance.  Remember, about 50% of many Western world countries’ marriages end in divorce, and it is thought that another 25% could be doing far better than they are.  There are similar results for parent-child relationships, family relationships, friendships which do somewhat better and then there is healthy self-love relating for which the results are not good either, except for those who work it (see “Is Love Ignorance The Problem?”).

Do We Know Enough About Love to Make It Learnable?

If love was so unknowable, why did St. Paul write so much about what is love and what is not love?  Why did Ovid in the year one write about how to make love lasting, and Buddha kept emphasizing living by love’s Four Immeasurable Mindsets, Aristotle taught the ways of love have to do with compassion, virtue, affection and kindness, Rumi spend his life writing poetry about love and its ways?  And in more modern times, why did such widely diverse leaders of modern thought such as Eric Fromme, Soren Kierkegaard, Harry Harlow and Thich Nhat Hahn work so hard to discover and teach the ways of doing love?

Not long ago in Russia it was decided that we finally know so much about love that the field of loveology was officially certified as a legitimate field of study in which you could get undergraduate and graduate degrees (see “Is There Really a New Field Called Loveology?”).  In Europe, the US and several South American countries, graduate-level institutes are sponsoring "love studies" in a wide array of fields ranging from anthropology to zoology.  Especially in the brain sciences there are research projects going on investigating brain processes and love.  Already a great deal has been discovered which has opened the door to many new questions and avenues for further study never before explored or, in some cases, never before even thought about.
So, the answer is yes; we know more than enough about love to make it learnable though there is yet so much more to learn.

What Must Be Learned About Love?

From a psychological point of view, there are three, big, integrated areas that are to be focused on.  Those three areas are: #1) to be able to do constructive thinking about love, #2) to be able to have healthy awareness of love’s many emotions and how they usefully inform us, and #3) to have knowledge of and practice, i.e. do, the major behaviors that accomplish love.  Number three is the one that has to do with the performance Art of love and, for our purposes here, is the most important one.  However, let us first briefly touch into the feelings or emotional aspects of love and then the thinking aspect.

Right now, can you quietly and internally search deep into your psychological heart and sense your loving feelings toward someone you have love for?  If so, what are those feelings like right now?  Are they tender, powerful, uplifting, sad, protective, nurturing, heavy, light, or what?  If they have a message, can you hear what that message is?

It is OK if nothing comes right now, it may come later.  That is a sort of exercise that uses mindfulness for tapping into the love you have for someone and the feelings that come from that love.  Love is not a feeling but it gives us feelings of many types including loving, loved and lovable, along with a great many others.  It shows how the love within you might be usefully available and purposefully accessed.

Let's take a quick glance at thinking about love.  Try focusing on the thought that love can be done by you as a wonderful performance art that you are going to greatly enjoy learning about and participating in.  Think how developing that mindset might lead you into some greatly enriching experiences.

Now, for the performance part – the most important part for our purposes here and the part I suggest you focus  most on.  It is the actions or behaviors of love that accomplish the most.  It is what you do or perform that fulfills the five major functions of love (see “A Functional Definition of Love” ). Like any performance art, it is the actual performing of the behaviors of the art that are the art.
To help you with that, here is my favorite simplified outline of the major behaviors of love to learn about, and start practicing and working to improve.


Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love can be understood to be accomplished at three levels, each of which have four major components.  They are as follows:

I.   Basic Core Love Actions

1. Tactile Love
Touch love is the first and most basic way of giving and receiving love.  One can endlessly learn new and better ways to touch with love.

2. Expressional Love 
Facial expressions, gestures, posture changes, voice modulations, proximity shifts, etc. can, and do, send love messages often far better and more powerfully than words.  They also have infinite variations.

3. Verbal Love
Artfully delivered words of love sometimes can be the most meaningful and most magnificent way to deliver love’s most impactful communications.  Work with words of love for depth, height and breadth of love expression and more lasting effect.

4. Gifting Love
One can give objects, experiences and favors significantly showing love.  All three can be of enormous importance and made special by personal variation and design.

II. Higher Functioning Love Actions

5. Affirmational Love

Love behaviors and words that affirm the high value and importance of the loved.  These often are essential for building up, strengthening and actively appreciating the loved.  Thus, they often bringing out the best in a loved one.

6. Self-disclosure Love
Often essential for deep core connecting, growing closeness and creating intimacy.  This involves the self revealing of personal thoughts, feelings (both physical and emotional), behaviors history, hopes, fears, failures and successes and everything personal and private.

7. Tolerational Love
Tolerating the less pleasant and sometimes harder to accept aspects of the loved but not to the point of harm, or self-destruction, or enabling a loved one's self harm or self-destruction.

8. Receptional Love
Acting to lovingly, appreciatively and positively receive acts and words showing love and positiveness toward you.  This is essential for love cycling in ongoing relationships, growing love mutually and a sense of bonded connectedness.

III. Cardinal Love Actions

9. Connecting Love
Actions that cause and promote heartfelt connection feelings with the loved, including bonding behaviors and experiences, feelings of having ongoing unity, deep attachment, strong allegiance and loyalty with one or more networked loved ones.

10. Nurturing Love
An interacting group of behaviors that act to promote, aid, assist, motivate and reward (A) the healthful growth, positive development and constructive advancement, (B) the maintenance and sustaining of ongoing well-being, and when needed the repair, restoration and healing of the loved.

11. Protective Love
Any and all behaviors that aim to safeguard, defendant or, if needed, rescue the loved from harm, reduced well-being, useless hurt and destructive occurrences while also aiming to not be overprotective and, thus, block growth for improvement and strengthening.

12. Metaphysical Love
All healthful actions that are done to spiritually, meditatively and/or metaphysically promote and support the well-being of the loved.

One More Thing:  There's a lot here you might want to enjoy talking over with others to help your own thoughts and understandings go further.  If you do that, please be so kind as to mention this site and our many mini-love-lessons.

As always – Go and Grow with Love.

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If you are not happily hungry to learn about love a lot, are you maybe condemned to only learn from your love mistakes – or not at all?

Asking For What You Want-- with Love!

Synopsis: Why asking is crucially important; Three basic things to understand; Three blocks to get past; 10 essential questions to ask yourself first; The seven major elements of a really good love request to learn and practice.

The research is conclusive.  Asking for what you want is crucial to the success of ongoing love relationships.  Not asking for what you want honestly, accurately, sufficiently and frequently is likely to have a detrimental, even destructive effect on every adult love relationship you have.

The research also is clear that people in a great many couple, family, friendship and other love relationships don’t do a good job of effectively asking for what they want and, therefore, they frequently don’t get what they want.  This leads to disappointment, misunderstandings, frustration, anger, fights, loneliness, breakups and many other forms of agony and dysfunction.  From ineffective, and sometimes even nonexistent requests flow many of the worst relational problems which, with the making of good requests, might mostly be avoided.

It’s important to understand three ‘basic, background concepts regarding ‘asking for what you want’:

Concept 1.  Asking shares yourself Whenever you ask for something you want you have shared an important part of yourself.  To not ask is to not share an important truth about you.  Remember, one of the eight major ways to directly love someone is termed Self Disclosure Love.  The truth seems to be we always are going after what we want subconsciously, semi-consciously or consciously.  Everything that lives survives by going after what it wants.  Going after it consciously and clearly by verbally asking for what we want makes the teamwork of relationship much more clear and much more likely to work.  Clearly sharing your desires helps those you love to not have to guess, to not miss important aspects of you, to not make mistakes and it can help them feel not only personally shared with but personally important and valued.

Concept 2.  Asking is responsible love behavior If I ‘own’ a desire or want, as an adult I ‘own’ the responsibility to do something about my desire or want.  You can help but it’s my job to do something about it.  I can use my response-ability of verbalizing clearly what I want with my love response-ability by making my requests known as lovingly as possible.  By using terms of endearment, soft tones of voice, loving facial expressions, and perhaps loving touch mixed with honest, behaviorally clear requests, two or more people can responsibly create the teamwork of good love relating.

Concept 3.  Asking fulfills love needs best In your wants are hidden your needs.  You may want the pleasure of a caress and biologically need the neurochemical endorphin release the caress activates.  To function well we need the nourishment of healthy, real love.  The quickest and most efficient way to get that needed nourishment is to ask for it.  As you perhaps have noticed, I am fond of saying love is an essential psychological food that nourishes us pretty much like healthy, physical food does.  Love energizes us and without it we begin to malfunction in numerous psycho-biological and relational ways.  Love relationships work just like restaurants.  They can provide you very enjoyable nourishment and may even come with a very pleasant milieu but they both depend on just one thing – asking for what you want.

Imagine going to a restaurant and not asking for what you want, and imagine what you would get.  It might be similar to what you get in a love relationship when you don’t do a good job of asking for what you want.  I suggest that the better you ask the better your chances are of actually getting what you want (no guarantee).  Equally important is hearing and understanding rather exactly what your beloved wants.  Much of giving healthy, real love is about helping your loved ones get what they want and perhaps to get what they need.

You may be blocked from asking for what you want by three dangerous and often destructive myths.  One myth is ‘If you really love me you know what I want, and you will give it to me’.  (See “Anti-Love Myth #1: True Love Means You Will Know What to Do”).  Let me suggest the truth is that love does not come with a crystal ball or automatic mind-reading ability, therefore, communication, including asking for what you want, is necessary.  The next myth is ‘If I have to ask you for what I want it spoils getting it’.  That is only true if you make it so.  Let me suggest that asking for what you want is a gift of self loving, self disclosure and letting yourself be vulnerable with a loved one.

Withholding what you want often can help your loved ones fail at loving you and,  therefore, actually is an anti-love act.  A third myth is ‘Asking for what I want is selfish and unloving’.  The 3000-year-old admonition to ‘love others AS you love yourself’ is wonderfully just right.  It provides for the possibility of ‘I win , you win and there need be no loser’ outcomes.  (See “Loving Others AS You Love Yourself???”)  I suggest asking for what you want is an act of healthy self-love that’s necessary for the workings of healthy love relationships.

Asking Yourself Ten Essential Questions first Here are 10 very important questions to ask yourself before you start learning how to do a better job of asking for what you want with love:
1. Do I wait so long to say something about what I want that I come across unhappy, mad or otherwise negative when I finally do bring it up?

2. Do I gripe and complain about not getting what I want as a way to ask for it and, thus, sabotage the whole process?

3. Do I pick poor and bad times to bring up what I want, like when we are tired, in a rush, at work, stressed, needing to focus on other things, etc.?

4. Do I complain more about what I don’t get than give thanks and praise for what I do get?

5. Do I make my requests too vague, abstract, general and nonspecific, thus, sabotaging my chances for getting what I really want?

6. Do I hint, give clues, and generally ask indirectly, instead of directly and clearly asking for what I want?

7. Do I let fears, apprehension, and doubts slow or stop me from asking for what I want, especially about the love and its expressions I want and probably need?

8. Do I ask for what I want in a loving tone of voice and with a loving look on my face?

9. Do I discuss my wants with manipulative terms like “I need …”, “You never give me…”, “I never have enough…”, “It’s not fair that…”, “Why don’t you ever…”, and so forth?

10. Do I ask for what I want like a demanding parent, a begging child, or an OK, equal adult?

The 7 Major Elements of Asking for What You Want with Love Here are the major elements of making a healthy, loving request.  I suggest you study them closely and practice them a lot.  I also suggest you help your loved ones learn them and practice them on you.

1. Ask for what you want behaviorally like “I want a hug” which is a clear, behavioral request as opposed to “I could use some affection” which is not nearly specific enough.  “I want us to go dancing” is behaviorally good while “It would be nice if we did something fun” is okay for a start but inadequate without specific behaviors added because it is open to too many different interpretations and misinterpretations.

2. Ask for what you want with loving tones of voice, loving facial expressions and loving touches if possible.  Sounding or looking angry, sad, fearful, weak, domineering, blasé, bored, arrogant, dictatorial, superficial, uncaring, etc. tends to sabotage the request and the love relationship.

3. Ask with a time range included.  Here’s an example, “I’d like us to go to the movies Friday at about 7 P.M. and plan to get home by 11 P.M., if that works for you”.  Statements like, “How about we go someplace, or do something, sometime, OK?” can only be good if they lead into specific requested behaviors that cover what exactly, where exactly and when exactly might the desired behavior occur.

4. Be lovingly willing to trade, negotiate, synthesize, compromise, etc..  She happily said, “I will go see that adventure movie you want to see Saturday night, if you go with me to see my ‘chick flick’ Sunday after lunch.”  He said, “You want the sea shore and I want the mountains.  Let’s start looking for vacation places that have both close to each other.”

5. Ask the difficult to ask questions.  She said, “I’m a little embarrassed to say this out loud but the truth is I want us to make tender, sweet, sexy love this Sunday afternoon, and then wild, naughty, dirty sex Wednesday night after the kids are gone.  What do you think and feel about what I’m asking and the way I’m asking it?”  He bravely said, “I’m ashamed to admit it but I’m feeling really insecure and I’m asking you to reassure me that you love me and that I’m your number one love and there is no number two – if that’s true?”

6. Be lovingly willing to hear “no”, “not yet”, “I’m not ready”, etc. and to negotiate lovingly from there.  Unless you are lovingly willing to accept those kind of answers you’re not requesting – you are demanding.  There are no punishments or retaliations for loving requests which are denied or postponed in a healthy, loving relationship.  There, however, can be a little show of disappointment and that might receive a little sympathy.

7. Lovingly ask often and much.  The more you don’t ask for what you want the more you are keeping a loved one in the dark, the more you are setting yourself up for disappointment and setting your relationship up for dysfunction.

Healthy love-based requests, of course, tend to be loving but also, well-timed, accurate, assertive, sufficient, behaviorally clear and democratic in nature.  Much research shows that the happiest and most successful love relationships contain people doing a good job of asking for what they want along with really hearing what their loved ones want.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Did you grow up in a situation that perhaps subconsciously programmed you to be more comfortable, or more uncomfortable with people lovingly asking for what they wanted and hearing what others wanted?

Love and Your Body

Mini-Love-Lesson  #256

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

Body Thriving Love

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

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

Lacking Love Connections

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

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

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

On the Positive Side

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

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

Love Relationships – A Two-Way Thing

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

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

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

Giving and Getting Love Both Count

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

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

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

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

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

One More Thing

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

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

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