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

Starting And Parting Love

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson explains the importance and effects of both good and bad ‘start’ and ‘part’ love actions with short, real-life examples.

How Are Your Start and Part Dynamics?

Sheila and Kim both were looking forward to getting home after work and being with each other.

Sheila had a really hard day and was desiring comforting love.  Kim’s day was pretty boring and Kim was all geared-up for more exciting love.  Soon after they met each other everything seemed to go wrong.  Sheila had imagined a soft, tender, slow start to their evening.  Kim had fantasized an exciting greeting, active playfulness and behaved accordingly right away.  Then Kim saw that Sheila’s face looked disappointed and with displeasure responded with sour tones of voice.  The evening was ruined for both of them.

How could things go so wrong when both started toward their time together with thoughts of love?  What could they do to stop this from happening again?  How could they both get what they wanted with one another when they were in such different emotional places?

Starting on the Same Page

As you can see from the above example, how you start and also how you part can have a great amount of influence on how loving people spend time together.  If you have been away from each other, even for just a few hours, you may both be in very different, psychological places when you come back together.  If you re-enter each other’s space without lovingly greeting and coordinating with each other, you may clash and crash, or at least miss-out on what might have turned out to be good time with each other.  Like singing a duet together, you both have to start by singing the same song or you just make noise, not music.

Love Connecting Actions

Sheila and Kim learned they have to start with ‘lovingly checking-out’ how the other one is feeling and what the other one is wanting, before they start acting from their own agenda, even though both agendas might be love-oriented and generally good.  A good hug and kiss, and saying things like, “hello sweetheart”, “what are you feeling, and what are you wanting” when first encountering each other are good ‘checking out’ strategies.  Then a truthful response and acceptance if there is a difference in a loved one’s psychological place.  Next comes working to synthesize desires.  Maybe for Sheila and Kim they plan an hour of rest and cuddling, after which something more playful might occur.  Maybe they try flipping a coin to see who gets their desires met first.

There are lots of other ways they might proceed after starting well with lovingly checking-in with each other.  The trick is to start with love and good connecting actions.  Good, loving connecting actions can take less than a minute but often determine how the next several hours, or more, may go.  Connecting actions allow you to express your feelings and desires, and find out about the feelings and desires of your loved one.  That allows for coordination, synthesis, and ‘I win, you win’ outcomes.

The Dangers of Unloving Ruts

Lots of couples, family members and friends fall into unloving ruts, in which they are unknowingly expressing indifference to one another, in the way they start and part their encounters.  Couples that once passionately kissed hello and said goodbye the same way, too often get distracted by life’s many ‘to do’s’, and then they barely say hi or goodbye to each other as they come and go.  Thus, they miss-out on the energizing influence possible from their love.  Yes, it may take a tiny bit more time to say hello and goodbye with more love in the message, but doing so helps avoid relationship deterioration, and keeps putting ‘emotional gas’ in each other’s tanks.

The Importance of Parting with Love

When two people who love each other, take about 30 seconds or less, to really hold and kiss each other goodbye when they go off to work or wherever else they may be going, they are likely to come back together sooner and better.  This is true even when they may be gone from each other for relatively short periods.  Parting love also tends to make whatever they are doing next, done better.  Remember, love works like an energizing, healthy food.  Parting without a love-conveying-action is like going somewhere after skipping a regular meal.  You may do okay enough, but with a dose of love nourishment you will be stronger.  Without it, you may become easily irritable, annoyed and aggravated.

Saying goodbye with a really good hug and a genuine kiss, rather than something brief and perfunctory, sets up your next time together, and is more likely to be a time of mutual enrichment.  Beware of saying the same words every time; they can loose their meaning and power.  Be creative with hello and goodbye words; you may see a surprised response which probably will show that your love words have been soaked-up better.

Of course, if the time you are likely to be apart is going to be longer, bigger doses of love may be in order.  Good loving goodbyes also tend to help ensure your love bond with each other will stay strong while you are apart.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: If you think you don’t ‘start and part with love’ well enough, have you figured out what might be stopping you, and what you are going to do about that?

False Love Awareness

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson first gives you three quick examples of what can happen with false love; then tells of how false love is a lost and re-found concept; next touches on usual, common false love disasters; followed by some ways to protect yourself and loved ones from such disasters.

Has Something Like This Happened to You?

Enthusiastically, and to everyone she met, Audrey professed her love for Bobby saying, “I know I will love him forever”. Six months later she broke it off to pursue a relationship with CJ. Dietrich and Elizabeth both absolutely knew they were in true love with one another because their feelings for each other were so strong and not like anything they had ever experienced with anyone else before.

Two years after their marriage they were in divorce court wondering why those feelings had vanished. Faith and George had fallen in love with each other at first sight. Their first months together were so very ideal, romantic and oh so passionate. They were totally certain true love had finally come their way.

A few years later neither one of them understood how Faith could have become so involved in a torrid affair with Harold, a married man with children. Now after much anguish and struggle, followed by reasonably good counseling all these couples came to the same answer as to why things went the way they did. All of them, independently, discovered they were led astray by one form or another of highly deceptive and destructive false love. They all then went to work on how not to do that again, plus how to grow and get into healthy, real love.

The Lost and Re-Found Concept

At various times in history, it has been common knowledge and common practice to consider the issue of true or real love versus false love. Not so very long ago there were magazine articles, books, lectures, panel discussions, sermons and many late-night, private, intimate discussions about this very topic. When this was a common focus people seemed to have been more careful about deciding whether they were in a state of real love or something else. Lots of different terms were used to indicate that easily and quickly concluding that one was in love might be unwise and even dangerous – terms like enamored, moonstruck, smittened, love sick, having a crush, a dalliance or fancy (still used in the UK), and my favorite, twitterpated. All of these, and others, at least seem to have helped open the mind to the possibility that something other than true, lasting love could be occurring.

Perhaps because of the modern tendency to quicken, shorten and simplify everything, or perhaps because the ‘love’ word came to be a synonym for sex, or because it became popular to say that love was indefinable and, therefore, false love was indefinable too, these terms and related topics dropped from common usage and consideration. Once in a while one still hears the word ‘infatuation’ and newer terms like ‘main squeeze’ and ‘significant other’ which can imply that the existence of love is still in question. Some think it would be quite good for the older terms to come back so that we would have more categories to think of besides just ‘in love’ or not.

Thanks to modern science and much improved understandings and definitions of love, the subject of ‘real love’ versus ‘false love’ is once again something that can be productively considered (See Definitions of Love).

False Love Disasters

False love can be seen as the cause of many divorces, many ‘broken hearts’, many addiction relapses, many betrayals, many deceits, many violent abuses, many wasted efforts, many neglected children and spouses, many severely hurtful episodes and no small number of love relationship-related suicides and murders. It has been common to see all these kinds of problems as stemming from individual mental illnesses, personal inadequacies, character flaws, personality disorders and the like.

Increasingly research into relational dynamics shows that interrelational syndromes and mutual patterns of maladaptive interaction, influenced by certain kinds of relationally triggered, bad brain chemistry may be more the root cause, or at least a strong contributor to what is happening in these personal disasters. False love syndromes seem able to happen to mentally healthy individuals as well as others. The well-adjusted, do indeed, also have love disasters, as do the highly intelligent and otherwise successful people.

False love Protection

If you develop a good awareness of how the various forms of false love can seduce, trap and harm you, and an awareness of how healthy, real love is different from false love, you may be able to protect yourself from false love relationship disasters and their accompanying, considerable agony. If you teach your children about the possibilities of false love, you may help protect them from false love disasters. If you go to the trouble to learn about ‘real love’ and ‘false love’, you may help protect yourself and others from relationship calamities. If you talk-over with friends and family what you are learning and ideas about ‘real love’ and ‘false love’, your understandings and awareness are likely to grow considerably. By doing these things you can protect yourself and help protect your loved ones.

See mini-love-lessons concerning various forms of False Love below.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Who would be a good person you know to have a discussion with concerning ‘real love’ and ‘false love’? Will you initiate that discussion?

Best Practices, Parent-Love Check List

Mini-Love-Lesson  # 276

Synopsis: Here is a simple, short, yet comprehensive source for parents to use in viewing their ways of giving their children a full spectrum of beneficial love actions; it covers the 12 major ways research suggests and gives a “best practices” approach to love-filled, healthy parenting.

The Great and Grand 12

Extensive, replicated and deep probing research has revealed that love gets done in 12 different, interwoven sets of behavior.  The various patterns of successful parent love, mother love, father love and family love involve these 12 major ways of going about the doing of healthful, real love.  Each of these can be seen to have different aspects that integrate with each of the others but also have their own flavor and varying, beneficial aspects.

A Bit of Framework Information

Love is very real physically.  In the brain sciences, it has been discovered that the behaviors that are known as loving, bring about vital neurochemical, neuro-network and probably neural-electrical benefits that are essential for surviving and thriving.  This is true not only in humans but in mammals and other species.  Without receiving loving behaviors, mammalian infants and others tend to die of failure to thrive illnesses, although otherwise being well taken care of.  Those that do survive tend to be dysfunctional and maladaptive.  Those offspring that receive higher proportions of loving behaviors are much more likely to survive and thrive.  That is what the research evidence points to.

Healthy, Real, Parental Love is defined as a powerful, vital, natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for and taking pleasure in the well-being of one’s child or children.

This love motivates parenting behaviors that fulfill the five major functions of love which, in parenting involve:

1. Acting to form a deep and lasting emotional CONNECTION with your child.

2. Acting to SAFEGUARD your child.

3. Acting to NURTURE your child’s development and healthful growth (physical, psychological, social etc.)

4. Acting to HEAL and reparatively assist your child when needed.

5. Acting to profoundly and obviously ENJOY your child and your child’s unique ways of being themselves

A framing concept involved here is important to note.  It is that love feelings tend to come naturally but love relating takes learning and doing.  Only by the doing love conveying behaviors can love be sufficient and successful for fulfilling love’s major functions.  While love feelings may motivate certain, natural, love actions, feelings fall far short of what purposefully learned, practiced and skillfully improved behaviors can accomplish.


Here are the 12 Major Categories of doing healthful love toward your child or children.  You can estimate how well you are both doing and modeling (teaching) healthy love for your child or children by studying each category and evaluating your own actions.

Class I  Core Love Behaviors

1. Tactile or Touch Love  (includes affectionate, comforting, playful, tender, reassuring touching)

2. Expressional Love  (facial smiling, grinning, laughing; gestural open arms, thumbs-up, etc.; hand and arm motions; leaning forward, moving physically close; loving tones of voice, humming, singing, etc.)

3. Verbal love (frequently and in varied ways clearly stated messages of love)

4. Gift love  (giving object presents, experiences, doing favors and acts of service demonstrating love)

Class II  Crucial Love Behaviors

5. Affirmational Love  (first appreciating then stating and acting to express high intrinsic worth and valuing of your child’s being)

6. Self-disclosure Love  (letting your child see and know the human fallible and successful aspects of yourself via sharing your personal thoughts, feelings and actions)

7.  Tolerational Love  (being patient, understanding, accepting and forgiving of the less pleasant aspects of your child)

8. Receptional Love  (focusing on and reacting positively to your child’s attempts to show and give you love as an act of giving love)

Class III  Cardinal Love Behaviors

9.  Protectional Love  (acting to safeguard your child in small, medium and large ways without being oppressive, suffocating or overly blocking of your child’s efforts to learn to handle life’s difficulties)

10.  Nurturing Love  (kindness and care expressive ways that help a child healthfully grow, develop, improve, achieve and fulfill their positive potentials)

11.  Reparative Love  (actions that help heal wounds, cure illnesses, restore well-being, counter setbacks, mitigate sick feelings and get past blocks to wellness or, at least, make them less hurtful and harmful)

12.  Metaphysical Love  (doing spiritual, meditative, prayerful, ceremonial, ritual, contemplative or potentially transpersonal actions on behalf of your child’s well-being, health and advancement, sometimes, doing those with them)

There are other lists of love behaviors that are well worth studying and applying to the ways of doing best practices parenting.  Paul’s 16 points concerning love, found in First Corinthians 13 of the New Testament, and the 4 great immeasurable mindsets (or heart sets) of love taught in both Hinduism and Buddhism are excellent sources to study further.  The book Teachings on Love by the Zen monk, Tich Nhat Hanh, is a good place to begin for the 4 mindsets.  Consulting the works of Dr. Sue Gerhard, cofounder of the Oxford Parent Infant Project and author of Why Love Matters also is an excellent source for parents.  Also quite useful are the many Mini-Love-Lessons found under the Parenting heading of the Subject Index at this site.

Remember To feel love is natural, To do love is learned.  Therefore, to do parent love with a best practices approach, it is necessary to study, experiment and practice.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  Science has revealed a lot about both successful parenting and healthful love, so are you looking into and making use of science’s recent, fascinating discoveries?

Competitive Niceness: A Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson first introduces competitive niceness; it then tells how it helps circular good things to happen in a love relationship; reviews how to develop this love skill; and addresses how to get past problems that might occur.

In a Happy Land

Most appropriately, we were in Denmark when we first heard about “competitive niceness” (Danes are the happiest people according to national comparison research). Competitive niceness had brought Phil and Gay’s long-standing marriage much good. Gay told of how one morning she was feeling puny and Phil brought her a cup of tea without asking him to do that. She thought something like “How very nice. It makes me want to do something nice for him, and I did”. She also noticed that she felt better.

Just about every morning since Phil has brought her a cup of morning tea, and has done other nice things that move her to do nice things for him – not because she has to but because she wants to. She wants to treat him as nice or nicer than he is treating her. Phil related it is a fun game they play with each other which reaps many good, loving feelings. They compete on treating each other well and it has been making them happy together ever since.

Later we met some other couples who practice another version of competitive niceness. They compete with themselves to ‘out do’ their own last loving, ‘nice’ action toward one another and toward other members of their family. That seems to work wonders for all concerned. Still others compete by keeping track of their ‘nice’ acts toward those they love. They are always working on making their list of nice love actions longer and better than it was before. Competitive niceness and kindness seems to benefit whole families and friendship networks, bringing them a lot closer to one another, not to mention having more fun with one another.

A Circular Good

If I do a ‘nice, kind, pleasant’ love action towards you or for you and you do one for me, we have created a circular event of good, positive, love-giving actions. If we repeat this over and over, we create an ‘ongoing cycle’ and a ‘couple’s teamwork habit’ of cycling positive, love-giving behaviors. That can help us grow our love bonding together and help pre-counterbalance whatever might be difficult or go wrong in our love relationship later.

Competitive niceness is an example of loving teamwork operating in a “I win, you win, nobody loses” style. It also sets forth good examples for children to model on. Done lightheartedly it tends to produce a lot of smiles and laughter together. Therefore, this is an example of the kind of love skill, and the most important dynamic, which creates successful love relationships – that of mutually sending and receiving actions that convey love. We call that a circular good.

Developing Your Competitive Niceness Love Skills

Go do something nice for someone you love, maybe as a surprise. Don’t make it a big deal or be too elaborate – short, simple and quick will do just fine. It could involve a favor, a small gift, something funny or just creating a nice little experience. Enjoy thinking it up, then enjoy giving or doing it, enjoy the positiveness it creates for your loved one, and then enjoy your loved one’s reaction.

You then could challenge them to do likewise, or talk over the idea of doing an additive competitive niceness with one another as a fun game to play, or you could just see what happens after your first extra act of loving niceness. Either way, keep doing daily actions and enjoying them. After several weeks of doing that, it is likely to become a good habit. Especially is this true if you both are having fun being competitively nice to each other.

If right now you are a couple reading this, you might want to have a little discussion to see if you want to teamwork together and experiment with creating a joint competitive niceness game. Remember the idea is not to defeat your loved one by doing better than they do, but just to enjoy the process of being competitively nice.


If your actions seem to go unnoticed, unappreciated or unreturned you have some options. You can give hints. You also could lightheartedly say that there might be something your loved one is missing or not noticing, and they might enjoy noticing it. Then make a bit of a guessing game about it. Or you could just directly request your loved one to notice, understand and appreciate certain behaviors you are doing. Be sure to say it in a happy, upbeat sort of way. It is important not to do ‘guilt trips’, criticize or blame. If they cooperate with this, be sure to thank them, praise them and maybe hug them.

A special thanks to Gay and Phil for introducing us to Competitive Niceness!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What is a nice thing you did for someone that made you feel good? Will you do it again or something like it again soon?

Contemplating Love

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson first introduces you to the value of contemplating love by way of some mind-tickling and significant questions; then touches on a few super sources for love contemplation; next comes contemplative wisdom and trash; and ends with five starter, love-based conceptions likely to be well worth contemplating.

The Questions of Love

Do you give love much thought?  Lots of people don’t until it goes away or turns out to be false.  Perhaps you have pondered what love really is?  Or maybe you puzzled over how love works?  Do you ponder about how to tell the real thing from the false?  What do you think of love’s reported ability to heal physical and psychological illness?  Have you tried to figure out how one gets, gives, grows, loses, destroys, recaptures, sends, receives or benefits from love?  Yes, there are a great many questions when contemplating love and probably in doing so can significantly improve one’s life of love.  As might be expected, those who don’t give love much thought seem to be the ones who commonly run into all sorts of love troubles and big love failures.

You also can contemplate lots of questions concerning yourself and love.  Are you well loved?  Do you love well?  Have you ever thought about your own love skills?  Are your love skills poor, average or superior?  Are you skilled at integrating love and sex?  How about integrating love and parenting?  Then there’s integrating love and friendship?  Are you good at healthy self-love?  You have heard phrases like love of country, love of God, love of life, etc.  But do you know what actions to take to accomplish those kinds of love?  Are you a person who relies more on love luck, or are you someone who develops your own abilities to act with love?  Do others see you as a loving person, and do you see yourself as a person of love?

Contemplating love regarding others also is important.  Does she or he love me?  Do my children really love me?  Do I have friends who genuinely love me?  Do my family members love each other well or poorly?  Do you associate with people who love well, are love skilled and love oriented?  Are the people in your life mostly anti-loving and/or non-love oriented?  Contemplating these types of questions just might change your life.

What the Greats Have Said

Another way to contemplate love is to study and give consideration to the writings of philosophers, religious leaders and the great thinkers that have preceded us.  Socrates, Aristotle and especially Plato, who wrote his famous Symposium on Love, had a lot to say about love.  Teachings, concepts and ideas about love can be found in all the Scriptures of the world’s great religions.  Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, Krishna, Confucius and many other great religious masters have taught a great deal concerning love.  More contemporary great minds in a wide variety of scientific, research, human services and many other fields also have contemplated love and produced highly worthy and influential volumes on love.  So, you might want to do some reading to assist your contemplations.

Wisdom and Trash

The largest number of ideas about love contemplated by the largest number of people probably comes from songwriters, poets, novelists, playwrights and the like.  Love stories are thought by some to be the very first written works.  For ages it was only those in the arts who tried to convey understandings concerning love.  Not only writers but painters and sculptors have presented much that can produce meaningful and inspirational contemplations concerning love.  Some of this is very wise, helpful, healthy, useful and right.  Unfortunately, a great deal of it can be considered trash, wrong, stupid, misleading and downright destructive.  But that also is true of many of the ideas presented by the supposed great thinkers, writers, etc.

So, it is by contemplation that one may sort out some of the trash from the jewels of wisdom that actually can do you and your loved ones some good.  For example, consider this.  Many a love story and love song has reinforced the idea that love is jealous.  The teachers and Scriptures of several religions definitively teach “love is not jealous”.  Which one is right?  Which one is wise and which one is more likely to lead you astray, and best be considered trash?  Perhaps you will want to contemplate that!

Starter Things to Contemplate about Love

Below are some statements involving love which you may enjoy thinking about, or in other words, contemplating.  It’s perfectly all right to not believe them, disagree or agree, or to go off on some tangent.  You also might want to think them over, out loud, with someone else.  That’s another way to help contemplation, by discussion.  See what you think about these ideas.

1. Hate destroys the hater
Indifference dulls the indifferent
Love makes better the loved and the loving.

2. Healthy, real love is always about and for the benefit of the loved.

It is only false love that can turn to wanting to hurt, harm and destroy.

3. Love is the greatest of all naturally occurring phenomena, but how to do it, give it,   get it and grow it takes lots of learning.

4. Two things get better and bigger by giving them away, ideas and love.

5. How well and how much you do healthy self-love will effect how much and how well you get healthy real love from others, and how well your love relationships will do overall.

Now, I suggest you contemplate the above statements and above questions as a way to get started on practicing love contemplation, and see where it leads you.  I think you may be quite pleased with the results you get.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What is the most important, influential and significant thing ever said to you, or read by you, about love?