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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?

Critiquing without Criticizing

Synopsis: This mini love lesson presents attracting or repulsing speech; critiquing and criticizing differences; headed toward bonding or breaking up; and what’s coming at you.


Attracting or Repulsing Speech

Which of these statements will you be more likely to make to a loved one:

1. “That was really dumb of you.  How could you have been so stupid?  You never learn do you!  If you just weren’t such an idiot.”
Or 2. “I could’ve made that same mistake.  That just proves were both human and we don’t always get it right.  Do you want to figure out how to fix it on your own?  Or, do you want some help?  By the way we can use this slip-up to learn from so we can avoid this problem in the future.”

The first statement ‘puts down’ both of you psychologically and the speaker probably creates emotional distancing and probably projects a sense of the listener being alone with the problem.  In the second statement the speaker emotionally works to join with listener and to avoid giving a put down message, yet acknowledges a mistake has been made and a want to fix it. You might want to examine which of those two statements is closer to how you learned to talk growing up.  You also might want to think about the people in your life who talk more like the first statement and those who talk more like the second and what influences they might have had.

Here are a couple more statements to examine:

1. “Let’s look at what’s best and worst about what you just did.  Then let’s look at how to improve it.”
Or 2. What you just did is all crap!  There are so many things wrong with it I’m not even going to bother trying to tell you how to correct it.”

Which of these two statements would you rather receive?  Which would be more typical of the way you communicate, especially to loved ones?  The first statement has to do with the speaker and the listener together critiquing something that was done.  By acknowledging that what was done has both ‘a best’ and ‘a worst’ it offers what can be regarded as a critique instead of a criticism.

Critique and Criticism Differences

Criticism is a word with a connotation of tearing down self-concept, personally attacking, searching for and pointing out what’s wrong, and paying no attention to what might be right.  Modern dictionaries now define criticism as fault-finding, disapproving, and unfavorably evaluating.  Criticism at one time just meant analyzing with knowledge.  In some circles that definition still holds true.  Relationally ‘connotation’ often is more important than definition.

Critiquing means to examine with a view to determining something’s nature and qualities. A critique used to be defined as an act of criticism.  However, critique is coming to have the connotation of giving a balanced evaluation without likelihood of emotional dissonance.  Of course, some people can take anything badly and feel wronged by the statement, no matter what.  This is where saying things with a loving tone of voice and loving facial expressions and gestures usually helps to carry a connotation of critique instead of criticism.

Critiquing is evaluating with knowledge, hopefully without the negatives of criticism.  It’s not enough just to change your style from criticizing to critiquing, you also need to make an attitudinal change from blame to one that can be a benefit to both people in a love relationship (this includes to children, family, friends and other love relationships).

Heading toward Bonding Or Breaking up?

Being demeaning with putdowns, complaints, fault-finding, derogatory remarks, etc. is increasingly taken to mean a person is criticizing.  This is the number two reason for couple’s breakups (the number one reason is insufficiently loving) according to some research.  Criticism helps love relationships break apart. Critiquing, as a rule, helps love relationships address issues in a balanced, positive way.

There are some exceptions. There are people who have grown up thinking all positive speech is sugar-coating and only negative, critical speech can be trusted.  There is a type of masochism in which a person feels very uncomfortable hearing anything positive.  Barring things like that, critiquing works a whole lot better with loved ones than does criticism.

If you find it a lot easier talking about what’s wrong rather than what’s right with someone you supposedly love, something may be amiss in your way of going about love.. It just can be that you grew up around people programming you to talk more negative than positive.  In any case, there’s a whole lot of research saying focusing on and talking about the positive more than the negative helps you stay physically and psychologically healthy and is good for love relationships.

What’s Coming at You?

Do you hear lots of criticism coming at you?  There are several possibilities about that. One is ‘you have been programmed to filter out the positive and only hear the negative’ and you possibly may give negative interpretations to neutral and positive statements coming your way.  Another is you are encountering  too many people who would rather talk about the ‘weeds’ rather than the ‘flowers’ in everybody’s psychological garden.

Both of these possibilities can be true.  Then there is the possibility that you are way too much of a noxious influence on others and, therefore, what’s coming at you is appropriate. That too can be fixed with the help of a good counselor or therapist.  If nothing negative ever comes at you suspect that you are surrounded by people who give ‘false positives’ or everybody’s too afraid of you to give you their truth.

If you hear more critical than critiquing talk, it may be time to change some things.  Ask yourself, are the people in your life more negative or positive?  Do some really love you and, if so, do they know how to love well?  Are you unknowingly rewarding them for criticizing you and, thus, reinforcing their tendencies to do criticism more than critique?  Is your interpretation system in need of improvement?   Are you really counting the positive things that are said to you, or are you discounting them, or even not really hearing them at all?  Most important, are you figuring out what to do about these things?

If you let criticism come your way more than critiquing, it can do you and your love relationships a lot of harm.  Are you going to help your loved ones who criticize a bit too much change to a more critiquing style?  With some work, anyone can make critiquing with love a most effective and rewarding love skill.  You might want to read related topics at this site in the Subject Index under the Communication heading: “Communicating Better with Love”, “Love Complaints versus Love Requests”, “Love Positive Talking” and others.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly



Love Success Question Which are you better at saying to yourself and others: putdowns or praises, compliments or complaints, criticizing or congratulating?

Catharsis Empathy - A Love Skill

Synopsis: Hank on alert; confrontation and bafflement; a wife and sister’s explanation; preventing fighting; catharsis empathy unraveled; and the benefits are all parts of this very important love skills, mini-lesson.


Hank On Alert

Hank went on alert when he overheard his wife and sister sounding mad and nasty in the kitchen.  Cautiously he eavesdropped more.  He figured out they were not mad at each other or at him, but rather at someone else they both knew, and that brought him some relief.  As he listened he was appalled at all the putdowns and criticism they were viciously leveling at this acquaintance.  Then he heard mean-spirited sounding laughter and got anxious again.

He worried maybe this negativity he was hearing eventually would spill over onto him.  Their talk sounded unreasonably one-sided, irrational and illogical.  Hank really wished his wife and sister would be more balanced in their appraisal of this person.  Surely, the unfortunate, targeted person they were talking about wasn’t all bad and maybe even had some good traits.  Besides, being so negative and mean-spirited was bound to be bad for them too.  He wanted the women in his life to be pleasant and kind, and what they were doing sounded so sour and ungenerous.  He screwed up his courage and decided to confront them about their negativity.

Confrontation and Bafflement

Hank bravely walked into the kitchen ready to argue and cajole, but he was caught entirely off guard.  His wife saw him and lit up with a big smile saying, “Hi Hank, come join us.  Your sister and I are having a great talk.  I just love chatting with her.” Everything seemed cheerful and Hank was baffled.  Slowly he diplomatically got around to bringing up his great puzzlement over what was really going on between them.

A Wife and Sisters Explanation

Hank’s wife explained it this way, “We’re helping each other blow off steam, or maybe more accurately, we’re bonding with each other as together we vented out our toxic, bad feelings.  It helps us get clear and feel better.  It’s a lot like what you do at a football game.  You scream and holler insults at the other team or at the referee, and pretend to hate them.  In doing so you bond with your buddies there with you.  We just were doing the same thing more personally.  If anyone ‘really meant’ what they were saying when you are screaming about how awful the other team is, you’d think they were stupid or maybe crazy.”

Then Hank’s sister added, “It’s also like going to a rock concert.  You’re mostly there for the feelings brought on by instrumental music, not the ideas and information in the lyrics. You’re there sharing your emotions and your feelings, and because there’s a like-minded crowd you can do it bigger and better.”

Preventing Fighting

Hank’s wife then thoughtfully added, “I just realized a lot of our fights happen when I want you to be my ‘cheerleader’, and I want to feel like you’re on my side but you start playing devil’s advocate and reasoning with me and trying to calm me down.  When that happens I feel you are not on my side, and even sometimes like you’re my enemy, and I want to get away from you and find somebody who will treat me with empathy, and feel what I feel whether I’m right or wrong.  Besides, that right or wrong stuff that has nothing to do with it”.

Hank replied, “This is a whole different way for me to think and it’s going to take me a while to wrap my mind around it.  I think you’ll have to tell me when you want me to be your cheerleader or to just listen with empathy and not try to reasoned it out.” His wife replied, “Okay, I know you get worried when I cathart, so I’ll try to remember to ask you to be my care companion and not my instructor or fixer or debater.  Thanks for hearing my point of view and being willing to try to be empathetic when I have to vent.”

Catharsis Empathy Unraveled

What Hank ran into and misidentified can be called “catharsis empathy”.  It refers to a time in which one or more people need to vent, or let various emotions out, and have the feeling that the person they are venting with is right there with them, on their side, is joining with them without criticism, and is helping bad feelings come out.

Often when there are pent-up, negative feelings and the dam breaks to let them out, lots of things get said that make no real sense unless you understand the words just help the feelings get vented or experienced better.  It’s like when you tell your kids “It’s time to go to bed” and a kid replies “I hate you, Mommy”.  You know they don’t really hate you.  They are just venting frustration.  It’s not to be taken seriously, but instead understood with empathy.

The Benefits

Cathartic empathy helps people unburden themselves and at the same time helps them become bonded with one another.  When done intimately and personally, it helps us grow more love-bonded.  Receiving empathy and the ‘comradery’ feeling that comes with it while venting helps clean out psychological toxicity.  That, in turn, leads to the ability to think much more clearly afterward.  When one person wants cathartic empathy and not intelligent discourse, it useful for them to say something like Hank and his wife and sister talked about.  An example would be “I just want you to be my cheerleader ,not my coach; just hear me and feel with me, okay?”

It useful to ask loved ones “Is this one of those ‘be your caring cheerleader’ times, or is it something else?”.  Getting good at identifying such times, and showing empathy when catharsis or when any emotional expression occurs is a ‘super important’ love skill. Thousands of arguments and fights, and even breakups might be prevented by showing empathy to a catharting, venting loved one – instead of that ‘blowing off steam’ leading to destructive conflict which so often happens.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
So, how good are you at asking for and giving empathy when emotional catharsis is needed?


Masturbation With and Without Love

Mini-Love-Lesson #228       

Synopsis: How masturbation and healthy, real love interface and can be intertwined beneficially; when masturbation is and is not a good thing; issues of differing training, genders, religions, etc.; and love relating involving masturbation are openly and refreshingly dealt with in this mini-love-lesson.


Martha’s First Orgasm

Martha was 72 when she proudly learned to masturbate and had her first, glorious orgasm.  She was one of my older, widowed, sex therapy clients who said she just had to learn to climax because it was on her bucket list and her physician cajoled her into doing something about it.  Seven sessions later she was celebrating and referring several of her golden age, female friends.

Martha had been severely religiously trained against sex as a child and had overcome most of that on her own, but she never learned how to orgasm in or out of her marriage.  Recently from her physician, she learned it was still possible and subsequently got referred to me because in my relational work, I had a subspecialty in sex therapy and a record of success.

Basically, I just did what many sex therapist do.  We talked some about healthy self-love, self-care, what is natural and masturbation as a part of that.  We also talked about romantic and sexual fantasizing, vaginal lubrication, I introduced her to vibrators and sent her home with some sexual exploration, experimenting and masturbratory homework assignments.  She was a diligent and eager student.  She readily fulfilled her assignments though some were fairly difficult for her.  After her seventh session and success, she thanked me and said she was going home to play erotic catch-up for 50 years of lost time at sex and self-love.  Healthy, real self-love and masturbation were the main pathways to Martha’s success.

The Great Therapist’s Tool That Is Masturbation

Martha illustrates one of the great, good and healthy truths about masturbation.  Because it is one of nature’s easy ways of teaching us about our own body and our natural systems, it is great for helping people with all sorts of sex and other difficulties.  Consider those with serious physical disabilities that prevent couples from having sexual intercourse.  Especially, think about wounded war veterans, serious accident victims and those with debilitating illnesses.  It often is masturbation and mutual masturbation with a spouse or love mate that provides these people a way to still have a healthy sex life and with it, a satisfying and growing life of love.

Masturbation also is a fantastic, therapeutic tool for helping a wide variety of sex problems to get better.  That is true for both individuals and couples and even the occasional throuple ( see “Throuple Love: a Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”).  Without using masturbation techniques, many sex problems might never get fixed or, if they do, it takes far longer than it needs to.  That partly is because guided masturbation techniques are basically a more efficient way to work with our own strong, healthy, natural, psychobiological sexuality systems.  Whenever we work with mother nature and not against her, things get easier.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Love and masturbation go really well together.  With healthy, real love, masturbation can be far more beneficial and positive in its effects, than without love.  Even without love, masturbation can be quite healthy, as is true of most forms of sexuality.  Two major forms, or focuses, of love relationship are involved here.  The first has to do with healthy, real, self love.  The second has to do with healthy, real, couples love.  Sometimes a healthy love of life and nature are involved and important here.

Notice, we keep emphasizing sex with healthy, real love which is so different from false love and it’s 12 identified major forms (see “The Huge Hidden Reason So Many Fail at Love”).  Also, sex with healthy, real love is very different from loveless sex.  So, as a reminder helper, here is the short version of our working definition of healthy, real love:

Healthy, real love is a powerful, vital, natural process of
highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and
taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved (see “The Definition of Love” ).

Masturbation with love, therefore, is a powerful, vital, natural process involving high valuing, a desire for, doing actions for, and taking pleasure in the erotic well-being of the loved.  The loved one can be another or oneself.  Without love, masturbation can be okay, even wonderful, but not nearly as beneficial and important as with love.

Some of the Many Benefits of Masturbation

In the health fields and the sciences which support them, masturbation has been researched.  The preponderance of resulting evidence finds masturbation to be natural, very broadly healthful and widely beneficial in a variety of ways.  Like anything humans do, occasionally it can be mildly to moderately problematic and once in a rare while, worse.  We will not list all the ways masturbation can be good for a person.  You can go online and look up the copious information available on that.  However, here is a short sample list of some of those so far discovered and the deduced benefits.

Masturbation, when compared to non-masturbation, has been found to be associated with stress reduction, improved sleep, menstrual cramp relief, stronger pelvic muscles, improved cardiovascular health, having preventative and anti-cancer effects especially for prostate cancer, improved brain health and brain functioning, the production of natural brain anti-depressant and anti-anxiety neurochemistry, reduced irritability, reduced anger, reduced sudden violence proneness, improved genital and gynecological health, improved orgasmic ability, more general happiness and longer life.

Quite a few other benefits are suspected to exist and research to find them, while limited, is continuing.  So, from the health and sciences point of view, masturbation increasingly is being seen as a great blessing.

When Masturbation Is Not a Good Thing

It is a truism that everything used is also misused and that can be said of masturbation too.  One big problem with our natural drive  to masturbate is that it can be coupled with anti-sex training and used to influence people into feeling guilty, ashamed, inadequate, fearful, embarrassed and sinful.  Each of these feelings can then be used for controlling, suppressing, and subjugating people.  These anti-sex trainings are especially powerful in manipulating people to work against and even sacrifice their own natural tendencies to know and act for their health and well-being.

A similar but different problem occurs when people have been taught masturbation is bad, sinful or sick which affects them more intimately and relationally.  That problem occurs when anti-sex conditioned people give-in to their natural masturbation desires and then feel miserable and conflicted about it.  Frequently, they hide this from their spouse and that deception may cause emotional distancing and a disruption of a couple’s love sharing.  Mistrust, loneliness and inadequacy feelings then may grow.  In couples counseling, it is not uncommon to hear both partners reveal these kinds of feelings and then confess to each other that they both secretly masturbate.  Mutual, shared masturbation may then become part of their cure.


Anti-sex trained individuals without partners who have healthy, strong sex drives frequently become emotionally conflicted, disturbed and even self-destructive when trying to fight their natural, healthful sex feelings.  Physical self punishment, self mutilation, addiction relapse and even suicide is not unknown with these cases.  More common is energy draining, ongoing, inner conflict and troubling confusion which interferes with self love development .

Physically, the most common thing that goes wrong with frequent masturbation has to do with painful rashes and rawness. Psychologically there are cases of addictive, compulsive masturbation that can result in a negative social consequences.  Masturbating in public gets people arrested, if at work it gets them fired and if it is a substitute for interpersonal connection it may contribute to interpersonal isolation.  Other underlying psychological problems usually are suspected of being involved and/or at the root of these difficulties.


Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

Dr. Ian Kerner, a psychotherapist and sex counselor, who leads an noted self-care effort after years of study and treating people with all sorts of psychological and sexual problems, drew an uncommon conclusion.  He posited that for good, healthy self-care, regular masturbation should be part of everyone’s health regimen.  He and colleagues like him, who have examined the research-based available evidence, might view regular masturbation as belonging right up there with a healthy diet, exercise, 8 hours of sleep, weight control and yearly physicals.

One of the major reasons masturbation can be good for everyone is that it causes the release of prolactin and serotonin which, in combination, can bring people into healthy, happy, resting states of excellent relaxation.  Another reason masturbation is good self-care is it can result in improved hormone health, especially for females.  Medical reasons like these are mounting, while opposing rationale is increasingly undercut by science and the professional opinions of a growing number clinical practitioners.  Increasingly, masturbation is accepted, recognized and recommended as a healthy self-care and self-love behavior.

Religion, Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

Naturally, healthy self-love involves lots of healthy self-care.  Masturbation can be a part of that healthy self-love, self-care.  However, this view is widely fought against, condemned and vilified mostly by conservative religionists in many parts of the world.  Conservative religions are generally quite negative about masturbation and often toward self-love as well.  Of all the world’s sizable, major religions only Wicca, the Hindu Tantrists and some Taoists sects can be said to have had a positive view about masturbation from early in their history.  However, today many faiths are conflicted over and/or revising their teachings about both masturbation and self-love.  One of my theolog friends commented “who would’ve ever thought that masturbation would enter into the discussion of what’s involved in the great commandment love others as you love yourself?”

If you are religiously troubled about the yeas and nays of masturbation and/or about self-love, you may wish to carefully seek out guidance from one or more clerics of your own faith, or perhaps someone in the interfaith or ecumenical movements.  I recommend that you consider choosing someone known to be loving along with being well-versed in your religious traditions.  Someone being knowledgeable in psychosexual and health science’s research also might be helpful.

Gender, Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

For women, sexual self pleasuring seems to be especially good for developing healthy self-love.  Masturbating females tend to have more self-confidence, self-esteem, and a more positive emotional outlook on their lives and on themselves, all of which provides evidence for healthy self-love.  In my practice, I counseled quite a few women who learned to sexually pleasure themselves at home.  As they did so, they overcame sex hangups quicker and more completely, improved their body image, developed more pride in being female, grew a greater sense of personal power and integrity, felt more lovable and reported becoming more loving to others.

For many but not all men, masturbation often is experienced with worries about their own sexuality, masculinity, adequacy, comparative potency, embarrassment and moral/religious conflict.  Time and maturation seems to solve these issues for most modern males.  For many of the men I treated where these difficulties were more severe, these issues were overcome by learning simple, self acceptance and self affirmation love coupled with singular or joint masturbation practices.  Some older males seem to continue to be troubled by these inner conflicts apparently because their anti-sexual upbringing was more pervasive and severe.  The expectation that aging will diminish sexuality also plays a role, but that seems to be lessening in many more progressive parts of the world.  In some places, males are learning masturbation is positive self-care and it is coming to be more linked to healthy self-love.

For bisexuals, transsexuals and other gender and lifestyle variations of all types, healthy self-love is especially needed to go up against all the opposing negative forces arrayed against them.  Self-care masturbation can be a great tension reliever, safe escape and safe sex aid in dealing with the extra pressures, threats and complications involved in being and living other than by “the standard”.

Masturbation and Couples Love

For lots of different reasons, couples and also throuples show their love for each other while engaging in co-masturbation practices.  Consider soldiers, sailors and Marines as well as others forced to stay apart from their spouses for lengthy periods.  No small number of them visually connect with distant partners on-line can keep their mutual sex life and their love life active by talking sexy and romantically while enjoyably watching each other masturbate.  For many this is a profound way of sharing their love.  Many others use phone sex the same way.

Couples living together often masturbate side-by-side because they are too exhausted from the day’s work to have intercourse.  Still others take turns lovingly bringing each other to the big O using sex toys and vibrators because intercourse just does not do it for one or both of them.  Some couples find it easier to masturbate while they share, create or read intimate fantasies to each other or watch porn.  For a host of couples in which one or both have medical conditions making intercourse unadvisable or impossible, mutually pleasuring each other via sundry masturbation practices allows them to keep having a loving sex life together.  Then there are those who masturbate separately often because of scheduling conflicts or just the structure of their lives.  Later, they lovingly and enticingly might review their separate experiences with each other so it becomes an intimate love-sharing event.  Frequently, that also then leads to more sex – together.

Of course, there are other couples who just prefer masturbating each other, or side-by-side masturbation, but who still lovingly touch each other, look at each other and talk to each other as they do so.  A good many couples lovingly mix having intercourse and masturbating.  This is especially common among couples who sexually dance or otherwise perform for each other.  After the performance they may fall into each other’s arms, have intercourse and then bask in the joining afterglow of the total experience.  For these couples, it usually is much more about the love than the sex, even though the sex can be very passionate and extremely erotic.  Many couples have found that not being so intercourse-focused or intercourse-dependent affords them a much richer and more variety-filled sex life to share together. link “Intercourse Absent Lovemaking, a Love Skill”  Especially does sharing masturbratory behaviors, thoughts and feelings add to the ways couples can very intimately love one another.

To Learn More

The mini love lessons at this site titled link “Ever Think Seriously about Real and False Love?”, link “Lasting Sex and Lasting Love” and Our E-Book Real Love or False Love Which Is Yours? may Help You and Yours.

To learn more in depth about the science and health of masturbation you may wish to check out studies published in the journals of Sex Education and Therapy; Sex and Relationship Therapy; Sex Research and Psychology; and Human Sexuality.  The archives of the magazines Psychology Today; and Prevention have some good summary articles to consult.

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As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable question: How much of what we are taught to be against is just what the teachers secretly feel inadequate about handling?