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Happy Empathy: A Love Talent to Grow

Mini-Love-Lesson  #260

Synopsis: Presented here are the many benefits of happy empathy; brain research on natural, inborn empathy; three types of empathy; empathy as a talent to grow; some important negatives concerning empathy; happy sexual and emotional, intimate empathy; and a basic how-to approach for developing empathetic skills.

The Many Benefits of Happy Empathy

Alex is a no nonsense, get the job done and on to the next task sort of guy with little concern or time for peoples feelings.  Zorba is a stop and smell the roses, enthusiasm for life and living it fully – a very feelings focused fellow.  Upon seeing a loved one smiling, laughing or just enjoying something, Alex feels and soon shows impatience and sometimes annoyance.  Upon seeing the same happiness in another, Zorba stops what he is doing and joins with that person showing them up-beat emotions similar to their own.  Then Zorba may ask questions, demonstrate happiness for their happiness and extend the good feeling time together.  This conjoint happiness is shown by Zorba for others having exuberant joy, serene pleasure, sweet feelings, pride and every other kind of happiness.  Alex sees such actions as frivolous and a waste of time and effort.

Now, consider these life quality questions about Alex and Zorba.  All else being equal, which one will be more likely to raise happier, healthier children, have more and better close friends, have a really good and lasting marriage, a more interesting sex life, more cooperative work relationships, fewer stress related illnesses and have a general healthier longer life?  Which one will accomplish more in a longer and more cooperation filled life?  Also, who may have more good opportunities come their way?  Who likely will be appreciated and respected more?  Most importantly, who probably will be loved more by others and likely have more healthy, real self-love.  In addition, who will more likely have both happy empathy and empathy for others who are suffering?  Finally, which one would you rather be like?

Natural Empathy

Do you ever yawn when you see another yawning? If you walk into a room of laughing people, do you start laughing too even though you don't know what anyone is laughing about?  If you hear a baby giggle do you start to smile?  If you answer yes to any of these questions, you likely have experienced  natural, automatic, empathetic responses including those of happy empathy.  That means, according to psychoneurological research, you probably have the innate brain circuitry for empathy along with its neurochemical processes.  Some people do not.  Many of those people diagnosed as sociopathic and psychopathic and those having alexithymic difficulties tend to have brain scans showing peculiarities, problems and deficiencies in the areas and circuits of the brain identified as processing empathetic responses.  Other brain research shows most mammals, including humans and perhaps birds, are likely to have at least basic, natural, empathetic response capability.

When happy empathy is done with someone you love, it is a part of connection joy, a natural reward function of healthy, real love (see“A Functional Definition of Love”).  This can be seen in parents who cannot help smiling when their baby smiles, proud family members at a graduation ceremony, close friends on reconnecting and the awesome joy of seeing your heartmate in ecstasy.

A Talent to Grow

Talents are innate, natural, ability proclivities you can develop and actualize with purposeful effort.  Empathy can be viewed as a natural component experience and/or companion talent of and with healthy real love.  Empathetic ability, like other inborn talents, is seen to be a thing you can work with, grow, develop and improve your ability to feel it, do it, convey it, exude it, hone it, shape the doing of it and more effectively and skillfully express it with practice.

When it is done well and lovingly communicated, both compassionate empathy and happy empathy are thought to be some of the very best and most important ways to love another, or for that matter to love yourself.  To help accomplish that, let’s do some thinking about empathy and happy empathy..

What Is Empathy?

In popular usage, empathy has to do with what generally is known as feeling another person’s feelings.  Empathy especially is a term widely used to indicate feeling similar pain for and with another person feeling pain.  If another person is sad, you are sad with them; if they are mad, you too are mad at what they are mad about.  If they are shocked, so are you, etc.  Their suffering is your suffering and, therefore, is shared suffering.  This kind of emotional empathy provides a basis for more accurate caring and comprehending of what another person is emotionally going through.  This frequently is seen as being quite therapeutic, surprisingly healing and sometimes even comprehensively curative.  However, there is a lot more to empathy.

Psychological research has identified three main forms of empathy.  They are called Cognitive Empathy, Emotional Empathy and a special emotional connected category called Compassionate Empathy. 

Cognitive empathy means mentally understanding what and how strongly another person is experiencing an emotional or sometimes a physical feeling.  It may include further understanding of the feelings cause, dynamics and possible results, along with what to do about it, if anything.  Cognitive empathy enables accurate understanding, identifying and constructive thinking about feelings.

Emotional empathy is having very similar emotional feelings to the emotional feelings another person is perceived as having, and perhaps to a similar intensity.  With this understanding, both good and bad feelings can be empathetically responded to and, thus, happy empathy is included in this category.

Compassionate empathy can include both of the above but with the addition of a caring desire to help, assist or alleviate another’s hurt or harm.  Motivated actions of support, assistance and/or rescue, if it is possible, often flow from compassionate empathy.  This especially occurs in all kinds of real and healthy love relationships.  Link “Empathy – A Love Skill

Sympathy often is confused with empathy.  Sympathy, a much older term (sympathy from the 1500's, empathy from circa 1900) now is understood to mean feeling pity or being sorry for someone but not so likely as to motivate assistive action-taking.

Empathy’s Bad News

Some people have too much, automatic, compassionate empathy.  They can be overwhelmed by it to the point of becoming dysfunctional.  They cannot stop crying for, or being mad about another’s misfortune, or they may sacrifice too much of themselves or their resources needlessly, or their impulsive efforts of assistance or rescue may backfire and make things worse for whoever they want to help.

Compassionate empathy mixed with a lack of critical judgment sets-up many an empathetic person to be a victim of manipulators and the unscrupulous.  Without sufficient critical judgment and self-care, empathetic people often unknowingly can become well-meaning enablers of destructive behavior like harmful addictions and habit patterns.

There are people who seem to be cognitively empathetic, in that they mentally understand the happy feelings of others, but their response is to be overly envious or jealous.  Then there are those who, on perceiving and comprehending other’s bad feelings, get happy about it -- the anti-love, schadenfreude response.

What Is Happy Empathy?

Happy empathy is responding with happiness, or any other positive feeling, to happiness or similar positive feelings perceived to be occurring in another.  Relationally, happy empathy has a sharing joy-type of dynamic often very helpful with love connecting, bonding and unifying experiences.

Intimate Love and Happy Empathy

To have an intimate experience with a loved one and take high joy in their happiness, pleasure, fun, ecstasy and/or serene satisfaction, is what intimate, happy empathy is all about.  To have intense joy because a heartmate is experiencing awesome, soul-felt ecstasy, or simple serene closeness, or even laughter-filled silly, sexy fun, helps imbue a love relationship with very special, intimate, empathetic love experiences.  Empathy brings closeness and closeness circles back to intimacy which increase both.  That can happen emotionally and sexually separately or mixed together.

Intimate love, intimate sex and happy empathy all go quite well together.  That mix makes for happy couples, throuples and other heartmate partnerships.  Link “Throuple Love, a Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”  It also can be involved in the more newly identified emotion of compersion and the loving with sexy fun phenomena of tertaliation which has to do with getting sexually and happily turned on by your heartmate being turned on to and/or by someone else, instead of being insecure and jealous (see “Compersion: A Newly Identified Emotion of Love”).

Some How-To’s for Happy Empathy Making

There are several approaches to creating happy empathy experiences.  It usually takes making several steps.  Here is one of the sundry ways one might go about it.

Usually, first comes either vividly remembering or finding a happy person to observe.  It can be a person of any age, gender or any other categorization.  Then, often comes deciding to slow any clamoring thoughts about your concerns and reduce the residual tension that accompanies them.  A bit of slow, deep breathing along with a bit of mild, slow stretching usually helps.

Next, comes really noticing, or vividly remembering, the really happy or otherwise positive feeling person.  Avoid thinking about why they are feeling good and just focus on how they are demonstrating that they feel positive.  Is it their face, or in their voice, or their gestures and posture changes, their general demeanor, is it what they are talking about or what is it that helps you know they are experiencing a positive emotion.

By the way, it can greatly help if you have in the past learned mindfulness techniques like being present in the now, having an awakening heart-mind, moment to moment awareness, emotion focusing, empathetic flowing, total otherness appreciating, etc.

It usually helps to do some mirroring movement which means to take a similar posture and make your face, body, arm and hand movements mirror, or copy, those of the happy person you are noticing.  Now, notice their voice volume and tonal qualities and copy those saying just about anything you want to say.  Keep moving like they move.  Remember that motions can change emotions and making similar motions often brings on similar emotions along with feelings of empathetic connection.

Some thinking about what is being felt, but again, not the why of it may be in order.  That is for identifying what they are feeling but needs only to be done in a broad sort of way for right now.  Getting too mentally analytical can take your focus away from your feelings which, in turn, can block the happiness empathy from happening.  Purposefully saying to yourself things like, “I’m really going to get into that person’s happiness with them, and because of them I’m starting to do that right now” while continuing the mirror movements frequently helps quite a bit.

Regard the first time you do this as a sort of pilot study or dry run and don’t expect it to work well but just orient you to the procedures.  Now, go looking for positive feeling people to practice on.  Some people do well to find stupid things on TV and, at first, turn off the sound and just copy the movements of someone who looks happy.

If, as you do these things, you hear anything going on in your head that is critical, disparaging or distracting, tell it to shut up and that you are attempting something new and different and are not to be disturbed.  Also, after you tried this system a few times, feel free to adapt it anyway you think might work better for you.  Know also that working at happiness empathy might just make some wonders happen in your life and especially in your relationship life.

One More Thing. Think about talking over happy empathy and this mini-love-lesson on it with someone you like or love.  Then do it and while you are at it, please mention this site and its hundreds of facts and ideas for improving love relating.  Thanks

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How well and how often do you give your loved ones the love gift of your happiness?

A Dozen Things Love is and A Dozen Things Love is Not

For you to ponder, puzzle over, and share with others here are a dozen wonderfully important concepts about What Love Is  and  a dozen about What Love Is Not.  These ideas have been garnered from both the wisdom literature of the ages and from some of the most recent advances in a number of sciences investigating love and love’s many related phenomena.   Let’s start with what is considered to be the ‘wrong’ ideas about love.

What Love is NOT

1.  Love is not an emotion
This is easy to see when you think about the fact that love is long-lasting and emotions come and go quickly.  The truth is love brings forth many rich and varied emotions including emotions called feeling loved, lovable, and loving which may be why the natural force called ‘Love’ gets confused with emotions.

2.  Love is not an addiction
Only a false form of love can be an addiction, but there are a number of those and they can be very destructive.  Addiction to a false form of love can waste your life, help ruin your life and maybe the lives of others, and once in awhile can even lead to someone’s death.  Healthy real love is always working to do the opposite.

3.  Love is not sex
It is true that sex is a delightful healthy thing to mix with certain kinds of love.  Without some form of healthy, real love sexual relationships tend not to be long-lasting and often disappear.  With healthy real love sexual relationships can be repeatedly revived and reinvigorated.  Also without healthy real self-love sexual relationships tend to become problematic.

4.  Love is not attraction
Attraction psychologically helps us move toward others while love helps us move with them.  Attraction can lead to contact from which love may later grow.  Love works to maintain and expand the connection that attraction led to.  However, love and attraction, although often confused, are two different things.  A truth is we can come to deeply love someone to whom at first we were not attracted at all.

5.  Love is not ephemeral
Love is very real.  Science has discovered neuro-chemical brain processes and neuro-physical circuits having to do with love and its functions.   The behaviors which come from love such as nurturing and protecting even appear to be in evidence in dinosaurs who lived over 200 million years ago; and also are in evidence in all higher order species that live today.  Each of the eight major groups of behavior associated with the conveyance of love are known to trigger different biologically healthful results.   While there are many mysteries yet to be solved concerning love, the evidence demonstrates love is not some ‘airy fairy’, silly, or stupid ephemeral abstraction.  Love, therefore, is a much more solid, tangible, and increasingly knowable phenomenon.

6.  Love is not an insanity
Healthy real love is probably the most sane thing humans do.   All the evidence shows that healthy real love in fact has a very sane- making effect.   Both giving and receiving healthy real love tends to have a balancing effect on abnormal brain chemistry.  Love tends to alleviate depression and calm  anxiety.  It even has a curative effect on certain forms of  brain damage.  While under the influence of love it is possible to think more creatively, and be more open to new and different possibilities, and be more in-touch with deeper than usual mind systems; all this represents greater sanity not less.

7.  Love is not infatuation
Infatuation and its ‘cousins’ (crushes, lust, idealization, the two to four year phenomenon known as Limerance, etc.) are often confused with real healthy love.   However, these tend to be filled with the false love indicators of jealousy, possessiveness, control efforts, over restrictiveness, etc.   The majority of the false forms of love are largely fear-based rather than love-based, and the actions that come from them show this to be the truth.   These false love forms fade away while love of the real type lasts.

8.  Love is not a weakness
Everything the sciences are discovering about healthy real love shows it to be strengthening, healthful, and empowering.  False forms of love, however, often are weakening and debilitating.  There are many who have studied love who come to the conclusion that love is perhaps the most powerful force in the universe.   This would make love-filled people the strongest of all people.

9.  Love is not exclusive
If I really love you I also will try to love and like the people you love and like.  I will not try to exclude you from them, but rather will include myself, and them, and you all together.  Love also will make me reach out to others, and take in more of the world, not less.  It is fear that brings on exclusivity, not love.

10.  Love is not harmful
It is important to remember that hurt is the enemy of harm.  With love we may say or do things that are hurtful to those we love in order for them, and us, to avoid harm.  However, from healthy real love there can be no action meant to harm, destroy, damage, or harmfully deprive a loved one.  Healthy real love is constructive, not destructive.

11.  Love is not dependency
Healthy real love helps people become more self-dependent, not dependent. There may be the interdependence of teamwork and cooperation. However, the effect of love is to make people grow more competent and able not less so.

12.  Love is not frivolous
Healthy real love is probably the most important thing  people do in their lives.  According to the ancients love is above all else in importance because love is the essence of divinity.  It is love that brings us our strongest connections with others, causes us to nurture one another and ourselves, motivates us to heroic actions of protection, motivates our greatest advances, brings amazing healing, and rewards us with our highest and most profound emotions. While the word love often may be used in frivolous and trivial ways the phenomenon itself is of prime significance.
Now with all that in mind let us turn to what is really coming to be understood to represent the nature of Real Healthy Love.

What Love  IS

1.  Love is awesomely natural
The brains of all higher order species seem to contain special sections and neural net circuits for processing love, special neuro-chemistry and neuro-electric activations, and other special biological phenomena all having to do with how and why we love.

2.  Love is desire for the well-being of the loved
Healthy real love drives us to want and act for our loved ones’ healthful continuance and enhancement (and happiness when possible ).  This, by the way, includes healthy self-love.

3.  Love is the great positive force
Philosophers, scientists, religionists of many faiths, and “the Wisdom  Masters” of many ages have come to this conclusion.

4.  Love is deep connection
Wherever there is healthy real love there is profound connection with
others, with self, with life, with the universe, etc.

5.  Love is survival
Healthy real love brings us the ongoing cooperation, providing protection and strength vital to our continuance individually and collectively.

6.  Love is the pathway to myriad grand emotions
Through the giving and receiving of love we experience the greatest array of our most profound emotional feelings.

7.  Love is healing and healthful
The highly curative and revitalizing effects of healthy real love are documented throughout history, and backed by a many recent scientific discoveries about love in a wide variety of medical research fields.  Likewise, the ability of love behaviors and love relationships to keep us healthy and add to our longevity is well established scientifically.

8.  Love is passionately compassionate
From love more than any other thing emerges the great acts of caring, the intense empathy for and with others, and the passion-fueled energy it takes  to change the world for the better, again and again.

9.  Love is growthful
Healthy real love is forever pushing us to nurture, enhance, construct and create that which helps our loved ones to be more, be better, and be fulfilled.

10.  Love is freedom insistent
Healthy real love works to set loved ones free to be the most they can be, and to be the most uniquely themselves they can be, and insists we democratically relate to our loved ones.

11.  Love is the greatest motivation and reward system of the life force
Nothing motivates more constructive action than love, and nothing rewards that constructive action more than experiencing the vast and varied joys of love.  Therefore, nothing makes life worth living more than love does.

12.  Love is Divine spiritual essence
Across the high philosophies and great religions of the world, and down through the ages it is repeatedly taught that the essence of divinity is love, and that all true real love originates and flows via the grand, loving, spirituality permeating existence.

Now of course you do not have to agree with or believe any of this.  You don’t have to disbelieve it either.  The thing to do is with your very good mind study it.  It also helps to share and study it with others.

To research love further let me egotistically recommend my book Recovering Love ( available from [hardback]: McGraw – Hill, [softback]: Authors Choice Press, and at amazon.com, iuniverse.com, and at my office).  Also great for studying love I heartily recommend the Anatomy of Love by Dr. Helen Fisher, Love and Survival by Dr. Dean Ornish, The Meaning of Love in Human Experience by Dr. Rubin Fine ( this one is superb for counselors and therapists) and All About Love by Dr. Bell Hooks.  All these of course, are available in bookstores and via amazon.com and other internet providers.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Image Credits: Pink cupcakes: Flickr user makeshiftlove, Dark cupcake: Flickr user Sailor Coruscant
The next installment in this series is: blue heart A Functional Definition Of Love

Definition of Love Series
An Introduction: What is Love Dr. Cookerly?
The Definition of Love
A More ‘Ample’ Definition of Love
How This Definition of Love was Derived
A Dozen Things LOVE IS and A Dozen Things LOVE IS NOT
A Functional Definition Of Love
A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love
What About a Scientific Definition of Love?
7 Other Definitions of Real Love Worth Considering

Intimate Love, What Everyone Needs to Know!


Mini-Love-Lesson  # 259

Synopsis:  We start with the experience of intimate love; move on to what is intimacy and intimate love; the main two pathways to intimate love; its widespread healthfulness; the question “Is risking realness required” and then end with the wonders of intimate love via emotional intercourse.

The Experience of Intimate Love!

Close and personal, special and private, connecting and bonding, free and trusting, revealing and exposed yet safe and secure, known and accepted, miniscule and precious, cherished and soaring, erotic and sacred, tender and powerful, idyllic and serene, delicate and cosmic, warm and ebullient, core sharing and soul touching -- these are but some of the words people used to describe their experience of intimate love in a couples workshop on advanced intimacy and love.

Do some of these words resonate with you?  Would you use others and, if so, what?  What is your experience so far with intimate love?  Do you seek, wish for, long for, or work to create more intimate love in your life?  Are you good  at intimacy cooperation and intimate love teamwork?  Do you tend to eagerly welcome or more often dodge experiences of intimacy?  Do you tend to linger with intimate love or cut it a bit short like so many do?  In your future, what part will intimate love play?

What Is Intimacy?

Those who research intimacy tend to see it as a process of interaction in which, most commonly, two or sometimes a small group of people reveal and share their real, deeper , more personal and private thoughts, emotional and physical feelings, behaviors and sometimes their sexuality, thereby, letting themselves be more mutually and idiosyncratically known and experienced.  In doing so, intense forms of mutual feelings of closeness, bonding, joy, being preciously connected and valued can result.

Sometimes smaller, intimate experiences produce feelings of simple closeness and strong, shared appreciation along with cherished memories of the experience.  There is often a sense of conjoined caring, mutual understanding and dual affirmation resulting from shared intimacy experiences.

What Is Intimate Love?

Intimate love combines everything you have just read about intimacy with, for, and in the expression of authentic love.  Love simply is defined as a powerful, vital, and 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 SeriesThe Definitions of Love”). Intimate love therefore, is a major, close, personal way of doing just those things.

At the same time, intimate love is a marvelous process for accomplishing the five major functions of love.  In brief, they are (1) to connect us, (2) to nurture us, (3) to protect us, (4) to heal us and (5) to reward us for enacting the behaviors of love.  Intimate love often provides profound connectedness, nurturing, healing and rewarding experiences frequently in a wonderful sense of happy safety and, thus, facilitating all five major functions of love.

The Main Path to Intimate Love

The primary path to intimate love is self-disclosure and, with it, self-disclosure love (see “Self-Disclosure Love”, a chapter in my book Recovering Love). It is an act of love to disclose yourself to someone you love.  It lets them know who you are in intimate detail.  Ongoing self-disclosure shares your personal self with another so that they can understand who you are in many differing ways, enjoy you and much more fully experience the unique you.

Self-disclosure can be done by revealing your body, your way of being sexual, your physical feelings, your positive, negative and mixed emotions, your history (both bad and good) your ordinary past, your hopes and aspirations, fears, weaknesses, strengths, excesses, deficiencies, victories and failures, personal thoughts, areas of knowledge and ignorance, your troubles and triumphs, mediocrity, ugliness and beautiful parts, along with where you need healing and growth, your deficiencies and attributes, guilty aspects, shame, pride, enjoyments, proclivities, idiosyncrasies, and ways of just being yourself.

Do not forget to reveal your ways of being fair, decent, kind and ways of having pleasure.  Very important are your perceptions, understandings, conceptions and misconceptions, preferences, moods, attitudes, judgments and quandaries.  Even more important are your fears, anxieties, secret hopes and hidden desires.  In other words, share as much as you can and, while you are at it, enjoy your beloved sharing themselves with you (see “Growing Closeness -- A Love Skill”).

The Second but Equal Path to Intimate Love

The second great path to intimate love is touch or tactile love, both sexual and affectionate (mostly nonsexual).   Everything from one finger, tender, superlight touch to full body bear hugs and full body massage-type touching is included here.  When you fully, really love someone touching them in every loving way and on every loved part is a great way to create an intimate love, experience.  Likewise, letting yourself be touched every way and everywhere is a grand way to share yourself with someone and let yourself be intimately loved.

Passionate embraces and tender eyelid kisses, being vigorously lifted then swung around or super gently caressed, having your feet rubbed with scented oils or your back scratched -- they all can convey, enhance and embody intimate love.  So too does all types of wanted sexuality.  Experimenting with new types of sexuality, always done with shared love and without judgment or anything critical, can produce a wonderful sense of an intimate love experience.  That is true even if the sex part does not work out so well (see“50 Varieties of Love Touch”).

Intimate Love Is So Healthy -- Physically and Psychologically

There is quite a bit of research showing that high levels and frequency of intimacy resulted in higher levels of happiness, good mental health, better immune system functioning, less stress hormones in the blood, as much as eight years of greater longevity, greater general enjoyment of life, better body systems functioning, far better relational functioning and a host of other goodies.

Is Risking Realness Required?

Many people fear self-disclosure, intimacy and intimate love itself though still desiring it.  There are lots of different reasons for those fears.  For some, it is a fear of being judged and rejected, others have been trained to be ashamed, embarrassed or have a sense of being sinful when they reveal certain parts of themselves, while still others have very painful memories of betrayal stemming from the last time they risked being real.  Then there are those who rely on their social act and persona mask so much that they just can't bring themselves to do honest self-disclosure without embellishment and social deception.

If you self-disclose some intimate truth about yourself and it goes badly,  in one way that is a good thing.  It helps you know that the person you did the self-disclosure with probably is not a good person to do self-disclosure with, and consequently, is more likely to be a poor candidate for carrying out most kinds of love relationship with.  Thus, whatever went wrong is likely to be a message to consider ruling them out and to go looking for someone more tolerant, accepting, empathetic, less critical or whatever.

If you choose not to be self-disclosing, that can be quite a barrier to intimacy and intimate love occurring.  Some people do not do well at self-disclosure just because they were brought up that way.  Frequently they have been subconsciously programmed to mold themselves into strong silent types.  This especially is true for a lot of men in several cultures where showing your emotions is not considered manly.

Then there are those, women mostly, who have been subconsciously programmed to be attracted to the strong, silent types.  Strong can be okay but silent, not so much.  Silence is a prescription for emotional distance and loneliness.  It is done mostly for safety but, in reality, for love relationships it is not safe at all.  Whenever there is too much emotional distance in a romantic relationship love hunger tends to grow, as does, the likelihood of secret affairs.

Can you risk being seen psychologically naked?  If you are rejected, or have fled from or retreated from being criticized and condemned, can you be strong enough to be okay with the probability that you and that person may not be a good match -- which is a good thing to know sooner than later.  Risking revealing yourself is the only way to really find out if the real you and the whole you is loved.  Hopefully you have enough healthy self-love to both risk and survive going for intimate love.  Likewise, will you do well with self-disclosure coming your way?  Toleration love often is required for a love relationship to be good and lasting (see “Tolerational Love”, a chapter in Recovering Love).

Emotional Intercourse

Having emotional intercourse fairly frequently is absolutely great for making intimate love experiences happen and for keeping heart-mate love relationships interesting and enriching.  How do you have emotional intercourse?  Well, you do it by taking your positive and negative emotions about anything and everything and showing them, not just telling them to a loved one who can take them in with good listening and love reception skills.  It is sort of like living them with you as you share and self-disclose them (see “Listening with Love”).

Then, with good listening and love reception skills, you do the same as they share and self-disclose their emotions about anything and everything to you (“Tolerational Love”, a chapter in Recovering Love).   Emotional intercourse usually is fairly active though sometimes subtle.  Intimately looking into each other's eyes, while holding each other, while both have very loving facial expressions can be great emotional intercourse.  Emotional intercourse can occur at the same time as sexual intercourse if very free-form, active expression of what is being felt emotionally and sexually is occurring and is being observed with enjoyment and maybe with awe (see “Intimacy Creation – A Love Skill” and “Emotional Intercourse”).

One More Thing: With another, talking over what you have just read and sharing your feelings about it, as well as your thoughts, might lead to a bit of an intimate experience.  If you do that, please mention this site and our many mini-love-lessons.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If you go emotionally naked and have emotional intercourse with someone and they, likewise with you, will you not, in one way or another, come to love each other?

Self-Love and Its Five Healthy Functions

Synopsis: Self-love dynamics and importance; the five functions via healthy self-love; living with and without functioning healthy self-love; a healthy self-love self exam.

Consider this understanding of how ‘healthy self-love’ and the ‘five major functions of all forms of love’ work, how it has great importance and how it is something you will do well to know about.

Dynamics and Importance

Healthy, real love serves us and drives us by way of love’s five major functions.  This is true of all types of love including healthy self-love.

Knowing the five major functions of healthy, real love and how to apply them in healthy self-love development can greatly assist a person in growing their healthy self-love.  That can amazingly and significantly assists people in succeeding at all other types of love relationships.

How well couple’s love, family love, friendship love and a great many other kinds of love flourish or perish often depends on sufficient healthy self-love.  The greater one’s healthy self-love the less one tends to operate from fear, insecurity, jealousy, anger, deception and a host of other positions that tend to destroy love relationships.  Greater healthy self-love also results in the development of greater self-confidence, self-reliance, self-esteem, self-understanding, self-directed living, self-trust, self-assurance and self-sufficiency.  All those strongly tend to lead to greater success in all areas of life.  Therefore, I vigorously recommend developing a really good understanding of the major functions of love and what they accomplish when applied to healthy, self-love growth and improvement.

Self-Love and the Five Major Functions of Healthy Real Love

1.  Connection
    It is by love that we are best connected to one another.
It is by ‘healthy self-love’ that we are best connected with our self.

2.  Nurturing
    It is by love that we best nurture the growth and well-being of each other.
It is by ‘healthy self-love’ that we best nurture the growth and well-being of our self.

3.  Protection
    It is by love that we protect and safeguard our loved ones.
It is by ‘healthy self-love’ that we protect and safeguard our self.

4.  Healing
    It is by love that we strive to heal our loved ones when they become afflicted.
It is by ‘healthy self-love’ that we best strive to heal our self.

5.  Reward
    It is by love that we best take joy in one another and reward one another.
It is by ‘healthy self-love’ that we best take joy in and reward our self.
So, in these ways let us adhere to the ancient admonition – love others as you love yourself.

Rewards, Survival and Well-Being

Joy (part of the fifth function listed above) rewards and reinforces the actions that stem from the previous four functions.

Each of the functions of love works for our survival, well-being and improvement.  Therefore, our healthy self-love works for our individual survival, well-being and improvement.  This in turn works to keep us going and, therefore, can greatly aid us in acting on behalf of the survival, well-being and improvement of those we love.

Loveless Malfunction

Without love and the functions it provides we malfunction.  When we malfunction we deprive both our self and those we love of the benefits that flow from our love.  Think about each of the five functions not occurring.  When we are not well-connected with our self we tend to live in inner disharmony and often work against our self.  When we do not nurture our self we grow overly dependent on others and may psychosocially starve.  When we are not sufficiently self-protective we live increasingly in danger of being harmed.

When we do not sufficiently act to heal our self when afflicted psychologically and physically we promote our own dysfunction and demise.  When we do not sufficiently take in, digest and revel in the rewarding joys of love we do not reinforce the actions that stem from the first four functions of love and, thus, they go unrewarded.  Unrewarded behavior tends to diminish and disappear.  From the diminishment and cessation of love actions everyone may then suffer.

Greater Self-Love : Better Everything

The better one’s healthy self-love the better the five functions of love tend to operate keeping the self strong, healthy and, therefore, more able to love others.  The better one’s healthy self-love the better one can operate when other sources of love are not available.  The better one’s healthy self-love the more one is likely to attract strong, healthy love from strong, healthy others.  It is true that dependent, needy, weak people also may be attracted hoping that your love and strength will aid (save, rescue, fix and/or ‘adopt’) them.  So, out of love for others one may be healthfully assistive to the weak and needy but only if out of healthy self-love one avoids becoming depleted or enmeshed in a weakness-enabling dynamic.


Now, you might want to evaluate yourself.  Here are some questions to help.  Are you becoming appreciatively more knowledgeable of yourself and your many miraculous workings and, therefore, more healthfully inner-connected?  Are you good at nurturing yourself and, therefore, helping your further growth and development?  Are you sufficiently self-protective and safeguarding of your well-being?

When you are sick, or wounded or in any other way afflicted physically or emotionally do you act sufficiently for your own self-healing?  Are you joyous about yourself and the bundle of miracles that you are and, therefore, are self-rewarding enough?  Are you helping those you love and care about grow to where they can answer the above questions in the affirmative for themselves?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
When you were growing up how much were you perhaps taught to regard self-love as a bad thing to be avoided and if you were so taught does that teaching make you a weaker person today?  For help with this see the entry “Loving Others “as” You Love Yourself ???”.

Smart Kids from Smart Love

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

Love and IQ

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

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

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

The Well-Loved Human Child

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

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

Brains and Love

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

Love with Smarts and Success

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

What is Well-Loved?

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

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

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

The Smart Parent Challenge

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

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

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