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Expressional Love Behaviors – The First 6 of 12

Mini-Love-Lesson #291

Synopsis: Doing love is as important, or more important, than feeling love; doing love well and doing it expressionally well can be crucial to the success of every relationship; here are 6 of the 12 things we all need to know about to achieve expressional love success.

The expressional choreography, going back and forth between people who love each other, can be like a beautiful, artful dance.  At times this dance can be fun and joyful, or intimate and romantic, or spirited and daring, or sensual and sexy or precious and tender if carried out skillfully and loaded with love.  To become good at this art form, takes feeling-filled practice and plenty of playful teamwork.  I’ve seen couples of all ages, families, parents with their kids and diverse others learn the dance of expressional love.  Therefore, I bet you can too!  (See “Love Expressiveness”)

Doing Expressional Love and Doing It Well!

Let us remember that love must be done, not just felt.  Let us also remember that the better we do love the more our love is likely to be effective, helpful, healthful, successful and wonder-full.  Remember too, expressional love may send as much as 93% of the actual communication in a face-to-face, personal, love interaction.  

To accomplish expressional love’s best actions, there are a dozen, lesser known, love sending behaviors.  We will cover the first 6 here and the last 6 later.  They may seem rather technical but they contain some really useful, concrete information.  Being genuine is always a best practice for relationship success.

1. Body Language Attentiveness

Attentiveness is a very important part of doing love well; it works with loved ones of all ages.  But the question is how do you show attentiveness?  Our body language can do that for us without saying a word.  When we show attentiveness, it conveys that we value a loved one and we are focused on their concerns, interests and ways of thinking, feeling and doing.  When our attention is desired and there is a lack of attentiveness, that might be interpreted as being uncaring and not valuing them.  Speaking via your body language, showing loving attentiveness, allows us to stay verbally quiet and listen while our loved one conveys what they want to get across.  At times, that can be a considerable communication advantage.  Here are some ways to show loving attentiveness.

When a loved one starts talking to you, stop what you are doing, turn toward them and move at least a little closer.  If you are standing, square your body with theirs while looking interested.  If seated, lean toward them.  As they speak, notice their emotions.  You can bob your head or lean toward them when they show stronger feelings.  Keep your heart area (chest) open and not covered by crossed arms or with things you might be holding.  Leave your arms and hands free for gesturing.  Shift positions mostly only with small, posture changes made slowly unless exuberance is called for.  Be sure to avoid turning your back on your loved one or giving them a cold shoulder posture.

By doing these body language actions, you send a message of attentiveness which likely will convey, consciously and subconsciously, that your loved one has a love importance to you and you are with them and for them.

2. Loving Eye Contact and Looking Movements

People who love each other frequently look into each other's eyes, often in close proximity.  They regularly make and hold eye contact longer than they spend time looking away.  When a loved one is expressing strong emotions or something of importance, loving eye contact can be imperative.  For your own better understanding, brief glances to the right or left assist the brain with processing memory, future focus thinking and figuring out what to do or say next.  A caveat here is, a brief glance away is OK if not done too frequently.  Be careful not to stare past a loved one or do much prolonged looking off into space or looking down, those actions could be interpreted as uncaring disinterest.  

Clues to a person’s feelings often are conveyed by eye movements like wide eye looks, squinting, eyebrow movements, winking, blinking, eye rolling and glancing away.  Sometimes the eyes contradict the words being spoken which sends a confusing message.  That can undermine a verbal love message.  You probably don’t want to do that.

A hard-eyes-look (intense or strained) with a frown sometimes can be interpreted as indicating uncaring, undervaluing, disapproving and that unloving reactions are going on.  When focusing on the love you feel for someone, best is to have a soft-eyes (relaxed) countenance.  

3. Positive Proxemics

Are you aware that how you place, move and position your body in proximity to another person’s body may be a communication in itself?  Love, friendship, rejection, your own approachability and quite a few other relational elements can be influenced by proximity.  We humans and quite a few other species often communicate with proxemics.  Proxemics is the science of communicating messages by positioning and altering one’s body in proximity to another’s body.  This has a lot to do with emotional closeness and distance, inclusion and exclusion, belonging and isolation, and love network dynamics.

One can stand protectively or invasively near another.  Intimate closeness can be considerably enhanced by close body positioning.  Holding oneself at a greater than usual distance may indicate a negative feeling toward someone.  Therefore, having awareness of your own body proxemics can be important to all relationships, especially love relationships.  

Consider elevation positioning.  This has to do with above, below and equal proxemic positioning and how it might affect the emotions in a love relationship.  For instance, when soothing a hurt or fearful loved one, it generally is best to appear like a strong and comforting parent who usually is positioned slightly higher.  When listening to an angry catharsis, a thrashing about rage or an anguished, anxiety-ridden loved one, usually it is more accepting and non-confrontational to be a bit below them, looking up from the seated position while leaning forward.  However, when seeking egalitarian and harmonious communication, usually it is best to be about on the same level.

Love relationships are enhanced by knowing about and using proxemics.  With whom, when and where might you use this information?  One general rule is to be close, get close.

4. Positive Posturing

Postures are different than proxemics.  Postures are about how you hold your body when sitting, standing or even laying down.  These postures tend to be subconsciously interpreted as positive, negative or rather neutral especially by those in close relationships.  To get any encounter with a loved one off to a good start, choose a positive posture.  Usually that means standing tall or sitting upright, shoulders back, head up, arms open and other gestures that communicate friendliness.  More concretely, when in family or group situations, social scientists have found that standing approximately at a 45° angle to a loved one often achieves higher levels of cooperation.  In private, facing a loved one directly usually achieves the best results.  

Asymmetrical postures tend to be seen as more friendly than symmetrical ones. An asymmetrical posture is one in which the right and left sides of the body do not mirror each other.  For example, a stance with one hand on a hip and the other hand gesturing often is seen as confident and open to happy interaction.  A symmetrical posture is when the right side and left side of the body look alike.  For example, when a person stands with their fists on their hips, with their elbows out and their feet spread apart that can be interpreted as confrontational and threatening.  In love relating, relaxed, asymmetrical postures tend to work better for everybody. 

Consciousness raising about all this can enhance your love relationships considerably.  Some people accidentally or habitually take on postures that can be interpreted as negative.  If you stand with your arms crossed, tense, and scowling you may be seen as judgmental, dismissive and uncaring, bored or boring or emotionally distant -- all these tend to be counter-indicated for goo, love relating.  If you feel positive and want to be seen as loving use postures with open arms, with palms up, head up and maybe slightly tilted, and with your body inclining forward to some degree.  

Being consciously mindful of your posture messaging to loved ones may help you get more accurately interpreted and understood.  Being aware of the possible posture messages from your loved ones usually can help you understand and more effectively relate to them.  

5. Connection Kinetics

Motions can indicate emotions.  Especially with loved ones, our motions almost continuously are being subconsciously monitored by them.  Notably, our facial, expressional motions are tracked.  Smiles, frowns, happy and unhappy looks, signs of irritation, aggravation, joy, serenity, elation, sadness, anxiety and the many other emotions a face can project are monitored.  This monitoring offers guidance to our loved ones for how to recognize our feelings and connect with us.  Likewise, we can be more aware of our loved one’s emotion indicators.  That can help us love them better. 

It is not only our facial kinetics but also all our other body movements that enable us to be psychologically and emotionally read and related to.  One of the very best practices of healthy, real love is demeanor presentation.  Creating and practicing a happy, loving countenance is a love gift you can give every day.  

This was dramatically brought home to me when learning to do family psychotherapy at a cancer treatment center.  Stage 3 and 4 cancer patients and their families did much of the training.  In spite of the pain and dire diagnosis, the patients kept choosing demeanors of genuine happiness.  This proved to me it was a choice rather than something governed by chance.  I saw happy, loving expressions, gestures and postures have wonderfully therapeutic effects on the patients and their families.  These kinetic expressions were crucial in keeping the family connections healthy and functioning.  I’ve worked to carry this lesson about choosing a happy, loving demeanor into my professional, relational and personal life.  I’ll bet you can too.

Facial, gestural, postural and other expressions can provide highly significant love connecting experiences.  When families were divided by the Berlin Wall, back when Germany was a divided nation, families on both sides could be seen still communicating.  For years, split families could not visit, hug or hold, or talk unmonitored to each other because of that barrier.  However, with exaggerated motions, they expressionally catapulted their love over that wall.  This is a potent example of how behavioral expressions of love can be instrumental in keeping our bonds with loved ones alive and well.

6. Head Movement Messaging

Nodding your head up and down to express approval, tilting your head right or left to express curiosity and interest, tilting your head forward to demonstrate keep going, I want to hear more and rocking your head backward in astonishment or surprise -- all can be used to convey loving listening.  Sometimes head movements can be tiny and still communicate support, agreement and connectedness in a love relationship.  Laughter-filled head bobbing and weaving often are a part of sharing fun.  Nodding or a slight jerk of the head in a particular direction can silently and unobtrusively point to something for another to notice or attend to.  Turning your head away can tell someone you are not willing to deal with something or with them.  Head movement messaging sometimes is developed almost into an art form within love relationships.  The intimate and elaborate variations can be infinite. 

Note: It is important not to fake but rather to more accurately convey your emotions as you interact with loved ones using the above suggestions.  Remember, it is not likely to be real love if you have to fake it.

Benefits of the first 6 of 12

Marvelous benefits can accrue to those who becoming mindful and active with these lesser known expressional behaviors.  Relationally, love connecting, bonding, nurturing, communicating, teamwork and emotional understanding improve.  Individually, these valuable and skillful ways to convey love can enhance everyone’s love-ability.

One More Thing

How about telling someone about this mini-love-lesson and this website about love?  Spreading the positives about love really might make your world more love enriched. 

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question: Is one of your goals to keep doing love better and better?

Yellow Love: Are You Suffering from It and Don't Know

Mini-Love-Lesson #183

Synopsis: With an ancient love master’s help yellow love briefly is explained, its commonness noted, how those who don’t suffer from it are different, and a five point cure is described for those who do.

A Most Common Relationship Affliction

Rumi, around 616 A.D., Islam’s great Sufi master of love knowledge, once asked “Why be content with Yellow Love?”

Yellow love like yellow fever (which makes you jaundiced with yellow skin) was seen as an all too common love-relationship affliction.  Its symptoms sneak up on people causing love relationships to be d-energized, depleted, dull, dragging and depressed.  It makes one subject to low-grade emotional illness, lack of happiness, lack of closeness, romantically and sexually less active and less enjoyably interactive with those you love.  Yellow love also can make life and love seem considerably less enriching and worthwhile than they once were.

Worst of all, many people believe this is just what happens in a love relationship as it goes on over time.  So they accept this affliction as normal.  Rumi and the Sufi masters of old saw that this did not have to be.  Modern love relationship research agrees.  There are all sorts of love relationships in which people continue to be, in an ongoing way, energized and enriched by love-filled interactions.

There are couples who after 40 years together still have a lot to pleasurably say to each other.  They quite frequently, pleasurably and playfully interact with each other in ever-varying ways, want to be around each other and to continue to actively behave in ways that can only be described as love filled.  Much the same can be said about a great many love-filled friendships, families, relationships with and between pets and don’t forget healthy self-love relationships.  In all these, yellow love is not a problem.

What Makes the Difference?

We must admit that sometimes yellow love symptoms stem from a lack of real love and a false love condition which exists. However, in many cases real love started the relationship and continues in the participant’s hearts but a yellow love condition is slowly seeping in and taking over.

What makes the difference is that those people in love relationships in which the yellow love affliction does not happen, are relationships which do not rely on love being something that takes care of itself.  Instead, the participants continually work to learn about love, work on practicing what they learned, especially work on honing their skills at giving and getting love, jointly work to fill their interactions with healthy, real love and both individually and jointly work to eliminate anti-love problems as they arise.  In short, they keep working at their love relationships.

Can Yellow Love Be Cured and, If so, How?

The answer to this question is an enthusiastic yes, and here’s how:

1. Individually and jointly accept that ongoing, healthy, real love must be worked on continually.  It will not automatically take care of itself, is not magically maintained or automatically improved.  The work can be done so harmoniously it doesn’t seem like work at all, and maybe even sometimes seems more like play.  Like everything else worthwhile, it takes work.  Doing the work jointly in loving teamwork is faster and better but individual work is also required.  Much of this work is to be done with joy, happiness, satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.  Those positive elements in fact must be included as some of the goals involved in that work.

2. Continually and often happily, study love and how it can be done well, freshly, deeper, higher and more broadly.  Think about how people get good at anything enriching or important.  They study, or in other words, get into it, learn more and more about it and its variations, applications and manifestations.

3. Continually experiment and practice what you are learning about love.  It is not just a mental learning but in action-practice learning.  Like a good craftsman, sportsman, artist, scientist, etc., with joy practicing and experimenting for variation and improvement is magnificently ongoing and endless.

4. Whenever possible, work jointly as well as individually.  Love relationships best take working and learning through two or more person relationship actions.  This is how harmonious, cooperative and victorious teamwork is developed.  A love relationship is best done as a team effort that requires team members to learn and work as a team together in interaction.  Add to that, individual work on and with yourself about how you give and get love to everyone including to yourself.

5. Work together and individually on the anti-love problems which come along in your life, preferably as they arise.  Problems left un-dealt with often get worse.  This usually is done with much honest self-disclosure, openness, a lack of secrecy and lots of tolerational love  (see Behaviors of Love: the Basic Core Four).  If problems persist, seek help preferably jointly.  Couples and family therapy, parent guidance counseling and relational psychotherapy are increasingly working wonders with many.

Don’t Settle for Less

Yellow love essentially is underdone and poorly done love.  Love must be actively and enjoyably engaged in.  If you are not enjoying and helping those you love experience love enjoyably, at least much of the time, something is missing.  It is sort of like swimming.  You have to get in the water and practice it to really experientially know and have it.  The more you do that the more you can just jump in and have fun doing it.  If you just settle for wading in the shallows, it will not be near what it could be.  In swimming, those who learn and practice all nine basic strokes, learn to dive and swim underwater, learn the skills of long-distance swimming, etc. get to have the most fun and also are safest. Yes, love is much like that.

In case you’re interested, you might want to read The Sufi Path of Love, the Spiritual Teachings of Rumi by William C. Chittick. and/or The Love Poems of Rumi by Deepak Chopra.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Are your ways and skills of giving and getting love growing and improving or are they a bit stale, rusty, blah and maybe becoming a little yellow?

Love Hugs for Health and Happiness

Mini-love lesson #182
FREE over 200 mini-love lessons touching thousands of lives in over 190 countries – worldwide!

Synopsis: This mini-love lesson, both seriously and lightly, gets the reader into some the many surprising health and happiness benefits of becoming skilled at love hugs, doing more for your loved ones, yourself and your love relationships.

Love Hugs and Their Surprising Goodies

A good love hug may surprise you with how many broad-ranging benefits it offers.  But first let’s be sure what were talking about.  Not all hugs are love hugs.  A real love hug starts with a person having and then wanting to give a gift of some sincere, heartfelt, real love.  It frequently contains a fair amount of empathy and a bit of evaluation of what the recipient will find beneficial and/or enjoyable.  Then, of course, it takes behavioral action.  It seldom contains elements of being sexual, perfunctory, manipulative or anything other than a behavioral connection gift.

The Many Types of Love Hugs

Love hugs are for everybody – friends, family, young, old, mates, kids, etc.  Hugs can be of a great many different types: tender, sweet, comforting, zestful, bold, intimate, lively, and a lot more.  Most love hugs include a lot of body contact.  Standing and laying down love hugs are often full-bodied and can go from cheek to cheek contact all the way down to the knees or even the feet.  Sitting, they usually in essence are sort of like cuddling and physically encompassing.  Love hugging frequently last a bit longer than other kinds of hugs and, therefore, can be savored better.  Love hugs can be considered a sort of pick me up behavioral vitamin.  Have at least one a day.

Most genuine love hugs benefit both the initiator and the receiver.  This group of benefits is increased when the receiver hugs back. Even without this hug back response, both people benefit.  There also are multiple person or clump love hugs with groups of close friends and family, sometimes even including pets.

The following are a dozen of the many, frequent benefits research has discovered having to do with love hugging.

A love hug:
•    triggers an invigorating, energizing, biological effect
•    sets off natural anti-depressive neurochemistry
•    starts a cascade of automatic, tension reduction responses
•    increases a sense of support and safety
•    improves blood circulation
∙    normalizes blood pressure
•    improves auto-immune functioning
∙    decreases anxiety
•    generates increases in self-confidence
•    improves digestive functioning
•    tends to increase the feeling of love connection with others
•    has a soothing effect on emotional disturbance and disruption

Two Way Benefit

Remember that both the person giving and the one getting an initiated love hug may receive the above listed benefits.  There are quite a few other benefits research has discovered but the ones listed above are some of the main ones.  Love hugs are part of the broader spectrum of tactile love which brain research increasingly shows loving touch to be very healthful and in some cases vitally necessary.

On the Lighter Side

Here is another list of love hug benefits:
Love hugs are:
•    non-fattening
•    non-taxable
•    non-polluting
•    don’t require monthly payments
•    are theft proof
•    don’t have to be insured
•    are inflation proof
•    don’t require batteries
•    don’t require refrigeration but can assist thawing
•    and the supply doesn’t run out no matter how many you give away

Give and Therefore Get More Love Hugs

Right this minute whatever amount of love hugging you already do, consider love hugging a little more often and a bit longer.  Also, when you could use a love hug and you realize it, consider directly, quickly and clearly asking for it, not hinting or silently hoping someone will sense your want and act.  With good, healthy, self love, don’t expect anybody to read your mind, just ask for what you want – you are worth it.  You also can specify whether you want a big bear hug or a sweet soft bunny type love hug or whatever else you might really want.

Anti-hug Issues?

Do you have anti-touch or anti-hug training or fears from previous life experiences?  If so, consider doing some work on that because health research is all very pro-love hug and love touch except in the case of some very rare and deplorable conditions.

Develop Your Love Hugging Skills

You can become very artful in delivering love through hugs of various types and sorts.  Think about custom tailoring your love hugs to the intended hug recipient and their current needs, wishes and wants.  Then give them what they likely want.  Don’t forget they may just want to see you greatly enjoying having a love hug, so as you give or get one show your joy.

It is okay to be a little selfish in lots of love hugs.  You also may improve the hugs you get by thinking and asking for little experiments in changing what you are getting in the way of a hug.  Maybe you want the arms a little tighter, or held differently or some other change but have you asked for it?  That can be part of healthy self-love.  You can learn more about how loving touch is important and how you can develop those skills of loving touch by going to the index at this site and looking up mini-love lessons on loving touch.  You also can get this mini-love lesson deeper inside yourself by talking about it to someone else.  So, who are you going to do that with?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Concerning the people you love, do you know for sure just exactly how they want to be hugged– more tenderly, more strongly, more softly, with or without caressing, differing hand placement, open or closed eyes, etc.?

Above Normal Love

Mini-love-lesson   #181
FREE Over 200 Mini Love Lessons touching thousands of lives in over 190 countries – worldwide!

Synopsis: Learn about aiming high to achieve high-level love; inside and outside the box thinking about love; the positive psychology of above normal love; and the how to’s for achieving above normal love (As you read, ask yourself with whom might you like to talk over or mention this mini-love-lesson to?).

Aim High, Go High
‘The higher you aim the higher you are likely to go’ is a truism in many areas of life, so why not also in the area called love.  Do you ever think about having an ‘above normal love’ for and with another person, a child, a lover/spouse, your family, a deep and dear friend, or maybe even with yourself?  How about an above normal love relationship with life, nature, a cause, a purpose, your work, your spiritual focus, etc.?  (see “Living Well via Loving Well”)

Have you, like me, heard a fair number of people say things like “I know hardly any marriages that are happy”?  Could it be that some of those are unhappy because the people in them didn’t know how to aim high enough?  Or maybe it is because they didn’t know how to aim at all.  There are some who say many people have not been taught how to think about love very well at all.  It also is thought that what they think largely may be an ‘inside the box’, mostly old-fashioned, failure-prone way of thinking about anything, but especially about love.

Inside-the-Box Thinking about Love

Inside the box thinking about love tends to include ideas like the following.  Love is unknowable.  It’s dangerous to know about love because that will spoil it.  Love is all a matter of luck, fate, the stars, heaven and things you can’t influence or control.  Love is automatic so you don’t have to think about it.  Love is feminine and it’s women who take care of it.  Love is a weak, silly and frivolous thing.  Thinking about love is a waste of time, especially for men.  Love is something you have to surrender to and let it take you wherever it takes you.

Knowing anything about love is impossible, so don’t even try.  Love is something you find or you don’t.  Love is magic and you are helpless and at its mercy.  Love is just a polite term for sex.  If you have to work at love, it’s not real love.  Love is really an irrational madness that just gets you trapped and hurt.  We are not supposed to try to understand love because that might get in the way of what it is meant to be.

Now, if any of those statements represent ideas, teachings, notions or possibly subconscious programming in your head, please, please examine and re-examine what you have come to, or maybe been brainwashed to think.  Notice none of those concepts helps you know what to do that could make things better.  None of them enables or empowers you to do love well or even make improvements.  They all seem to promote a kind of learned helplessness.  Some un-learning, therefore, may be in order.

This ‘in the box’ kind of thinking about love has two powerful things going against it.  The first is science.  A host of discoveries in a wide array of fields including the brain and behavioral sciences, biomedical research and even behavioral economics are showing that love and its dynamics are knowable and that love even is more incredible, amazing and wonderful than we thought.  Those discoveries also are learnable, useful, helpful and healing for both individuals and relationships.
The second big thing going against ‘in the box thinking’ is religion/philosophy and the teachings of Wisdom Masters down through the ages.  In their teachings there is a tremendous amount about what love really is, how to do love successfully, what not to do and a whole lot more  (Check Plato, Ovid, St. Paul, Buddha, Rumi).

Outside-the-Box Love Thinking

Ponder these five short questions.  What do you suppose above normal love looks like?  What might have to happen to make above normal love likely in your life?  What would you personally have to do to create and grow above normal love in your life?  (If you think you already have above normal love, think about making it even better).  What would having an above normal love do to your life and the lives of those you impact?

Having a Psychology of Above Normal Love

Let’s take a short look at how yours, mine and everybody’s thinking about love has been shaped by popular psychology.  You may not have known it but, concerning love , the authors of movies, TV, magazine articles, novels, sermons, syllabuses for many courses and classes, plot outlines, etc. might have been influencing and controlling how you think and don’t think about love.
Those authors and other influencers largely worked from what modern psychology was discovering and teaching.  It was new, exciting, intriguing and different from a lot of what had been taught before.  However, this became what we are calling an ‘inside the box’ way of thinking.  So, let’s look at that a bit.

Until rather recently, official psychology only was focused mostly on the negative and the mediocre.  The mediocre was called ‘normal’ and the ‘negative’ was neurotic.  The negative also came to be known as abnormal, meaning bad and undesirable along with terms like insane, psychopathological and mentally ill.  For ‘normal’ there were additional terms like sane, sound of mind, average and in the courts compos mentis.  The mind set was there were only two categories of psychological concern, bad and average.

Only in the area of intelligence did psychology focus much on ‘above average’ and that mostly was only in educational psychology.  So, if you thought psychologically, you thought about what was pathos or sickness, what was wrong, what was the problem, what was the inferiority or deficiency.  Or you dealt with what was normal, and within the norm, average, the usual, ordinary, standard, conformist, etc.  If it deviated from that, it was ‘abnormal’ and, therefore, bad and undesirable.  Even superiority in almost anything was suspected of being an abnormality or somehow bad and undesirable.  There were those who tried to think about what was better than average (out-of-the-box) but they were suspected of being abnormal and deviant too.

These two, standard mind sets blocked and warped looking for the above normal in everything including in the area of love.  Love sickness and what can now be thought of as ‘false love’ were studied by some.  Thus, in the modern world your thinking and my thinking probably unknowingly were shaped, blocked and warped accordingly.  We were then sort of trapped inside a modern, cultural thinking box along with almost everybody else.

Healthy, real love by its very nature is an area of excellence.  Therefore, it is not in the purview of normal or abnormal psychology.  In the 1960s the seeds of an ‘out-of-the-box’ revolution began.  What was called humanistic psychology, and especially its self-actualization theory, brought a fresh, new view.  Then along came a research psychologist named Harry Harlow who in an animal lab discovered that positive, love behavior in monkeys was as important as ‘food’ for keeping baby monkeys alive.

Later, as president of the American Psychological Association, he chastised the whole field of psychology for not paying attention to love and especially to love’s positives.  Years before his findings, in the area of pediatrics, there already had been discovered much the same thing regarding human infants but psychologists did not much read pediatric research.

Most recently, the newer field of Positive Psychology has been invented creating a great, new third area of focus – that which is above average, good, healthy, ascendant, etc.  Love studies, or as the Russians call it Loveology, can be seen as a very logical component of positive psychology.  This is a field which is all about the ‘above normal’, or as I like to call it “the flowers in the garden not just the weeds” (“In The Garden of Love”).

We say all this because it is very likely, without you knowing it, your thinking about love, along with ours and almost everybody else’s,  has been destructively confined to ‘in the box’ understandings and behavior concerning love.  Now, however, you can get out-of-the-box and learn what is being revealed concerning doing love well, better, in improved ways, more healthfully, more successfully and more wonderfully.  You can get out of the old mind set and go on to one that works much better.  Doing that helps us understand that healthy  real love is incredibly important to our survival, well-being and advancement and the above normal ways of love make just about everything in life better.

How to Achieve Above Normal Love

Because you are already reading about ‘above normal love’ you are already doing some of what it takes to start going after above normal love.  It first takes new learning, un-learning and really thinking about love.  Along with that, it may take correcting mistaken, not useful and self-defeating ways of understanding and behaving.  After some learning and thinking changes, it will take acting in new ways having to do with love.  You see, love must be understood as a ‘doing’ as well as a thinking and feeling kind of thing.  There also is learning what not to do and practicing more successful-prone behaviors.

Here is an exact example of achieving ‘above normal love’.  Suppose you read that Ovid in the first century taught “if you would be loved, be lovable” and that to make love lasting takes skill.  So you might wonder what skills are needed for that?  (By the way, wondering is a necessary part of thinking about love).  As you try to answer that question, you discover that in the Christian New Testament, Paul of Tarsus wrote what can be seen as a list of what ‘to do’ and ‘not do’ to do love.  One of his items was “love is patient ”.

Then you might hear about modern psychologists discovering that if you learn and practice what is called ‘reflective listening’ and ‘active listening’ skills, you likely will be seen as quite patient and caring as well as lovable.  So, you learn and practice these skills and if you do well you find your is love getting better, stronger and more likely to be lasting.  In this way, you accomplish and achieve a greater amount of ‘above normal love’.

Couples, families, friendships, support groups and other collections of people together can go after learning ‘above normal love’. That often enhances and quickens the process.  Joint learning is usually done with reading, thoughtful discussion, co-behavioral experiments in practicing of what is learned, co-planning love tactics, creating love strategies, giving heartfelt and spirited mutual support as you go, etc.  Learning together also can help better love bonding together.  Remember, it is adding the ‘doing’ part that leads to great personal and relationship growth and the likelihood of a life full of ‘above normal love’.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Which of the following might you start reading so you can better travel toward or enhance ‘above normal love’?  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher, All about Love by bell hooks, Love and Survival by Dean Ornish, The Meaning of Love in Human Experience (for helpers) by Reuben Fine, Why Love Matters (for those who help children) by Sue Gerhardt, Recovering Love by me, Real Love False Love by Kathleen McClaren and me, and more Mini-Love-Lessons at this site.

Touch Love Benefits To Love Relationships

Mini-Love-Lesson #290

Synopsis: The vital value and importance of communicating love via touch is increasingly understood by science.  Love connecting touch, love bonding touch, love nurturing touch and love healing touch are all introduced; along with some information about our brain’s processing of tactile communications of real love; plus focus on learning about and practicing each of four physical ways of relating with love that can strengthen and enrich every kind of love relationship.

Connecting Touch

Most of us are born with a strong, natural hunger for touch-love.  It is really good for us!  Loving touch can make a world of difference to our physical, psychological, and relational health.  The positive impact of touch-love on friendships, families, couples and even communities can be enormous; that is because touch is a major aid to human connecting.  Connecting is one of the five, major functions of love (see “A Functional Definition of Love” ).

1Let’s get a little more clinically technical here.  If a real love starts to grow via touch, a constructive, healthy, bio-psycho-social, affiliative connecting begins to be processed in our brain.  This facilitates human connection.  False forms of love can bring on a sense of connection, but the neurochemistry is thought to be different and the behavioral outcomes often are destructiveness rather than constructiveness.

Inherently, we are meant to be love connecting, social animals.  There is plenty of evidence that suggests when we do not make love connections, we malfunction; when we do, we thrive.  Through loving touch, we make some of our most important and profound connections.

Bonding Touch

When we join together with love, we can become more than connected; we can become bonded.  A major effect of loving touch is the sense of being deeply and long lastingly united.  This bonding process is facilitated by neuro-chemistry often initiated by loving touch.  

Loving touch can help the brain release at least two hormones which facilitate bonding.  Oxytocin and vasopressin play a big role in creating a sense of love-based allegiance.  Integrating lots of variety-filled, touch-love into our significant relationships can greatly help strengthen love connecting and bonding.

Nurturing and Caring Touch

Nurturing, another one of the major functions of love, can be both soothing and invigorating.  Loving touch, especially, is neuro-physiologically nurturing.  When we receive a loving touch it often can help us feel more emotionally up and able.  Loving touch nurturing acts like a psychological food.  It can feed a person’s spirit and have a strong, regenerative effect.

When a loving touch communicates care, at first it may seem simple but, in fact, it may be life changing.  

Arnold sat sad and alone in a candle lit church.  Unexpectedly he felt a soft touch on his shoulder as a friend pasted by.  He felt cared about and no longer alone.  From that simple, loving touch he was able to go on and face a difficulty that had seemed so insurmountable. 

Encouraging touch is a manifestation of loving touch; it helps people do and be more.  The pat on the back, the buddy hug, the fist bump all send messages like “I believe in you”, “You can do it”, “Keep going” and other reassurances.  When people are encouraged, they often bring out their strengths, draw on their inner reservoirs and actualize their potentials.

Healing Touch

Examples of healing touch are numerous and sometimes nothing short of miraculous.  To be lovingly touched when ill or injured, distressed or in agony can be surprisingly healing.  A number of studies showed wounds healed faster and better when patients were caressed by a loving family member or friend.  Rehabilitation research shows the rehab process is considerably enhanced and accelerated in patients who receive loving touch from their loved ones.  Physicians who touch patients with kindness get better outcomes, are considered more caring and are seen to be superior physicians by their patients.  To know more about healing touch research, you might want to consult the work of The International Loving Touch Foundation, the publications of Healing Beyond Borders and the healing touch research sponsored by The American Holistic Nurses Association.

The value of loving touch cannot be over-stated.  In your own love relationships (mate, parents, children, friends and everyone you really care about) put a lot of touch into their lives.  It will benefit them and you too!

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?