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Showing posts with label behavior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label behavior. Show all posts

Gratitude - As a Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love-skill lesson starts with important questions about thankfulness; goes on to gratitude awareness, gratitude confusion, gratitude insensitivity, the self enrichment of gratitude, gratitude expression and ends with a thankfulness and gratitude challenge.


Are you good at being thankful?  Are you good at noticing what you have to be thankful for?  Are you good at identifying who you have to be thankful to?  Are you good at experiencing a sense of gratitude?  Are you good at showing your thankfulness and gratitude to those you love and those you would or might come to love?  Are you good at finding different ways to state your gratitude?  Being sincerely thankful and finding ways to convey your thankfulness or gratitude can be a very useful and constructive part of doing ‘affirmation love’, see entry “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”.  Are you aware that without gratitude sufficiently felt and thankfulness sufficiently expressed love relationships are likely to be diminished and often seriously damaged.

Gratitude Awareness

Do you agree with this statement?  Every positive and pleasurable experience of your life, and everything you achieve or accomplish, and every one of your victories, comforts and acquirements are things you have been helped to have and did not achieve all on your own.  Someone else did a lot of work with almost everything you eat before you eat it.  Someone else built the roads you travel on and the domiciles you live in as well as the structures you function in.

Someone else researched and developed the medicines you take and the tools you work with.  Most of your learning opportunities come from the endeavors of others.  Perhaps most important of all, someone loved you enough to keep you sufficiently thriving in infancy and childhood so that you stayed alive and are now able to be reading this mini-love-lesson about gratitude.  So, are you grateful for all that?

Perhaps today someone will smile at you.  Perhaps today someone will treat you nicely.  Perhaps today someone will do you a favor.  Perhaps today someone will give you a loving touch.  Perhaps today someone will make your life just a bit easier.  Perhaps today someone will say words indicating that you are loved.  Will you experience the pleasure of gratitude as these things happen?  Hopefully your gratitude awareness will be keen.  If not, work on it and be grateful to yourself for doing so.

Gratitude Confusion

Gratitude is not to be confused with guilt, obligation, sense of duty, owing somebody something in return, or anything else that might be felt as a negative.  Sadly, many people have been trained, or in essence subconsciously programmed, to cancel the joy of gratitude with one negative set of feelings or another.  Gratitude as an emotion just means you get to feel good that something good has come your way and you can have a sense of being grateful about that.  By itself gratitude does not mean that you have to, or should, or ought to do anything except have the positive experience gratitude provides.

Gratitude Insensitivity

Lots of people take for granted so many of the positive things they might otherwise be grateful for.  Many others take for granted not only the actions of, but also the people who are providing love and other strong positives in their life.  Many of the people I have dealt with in therapy stopped taking things and people for granted and became grateful only after they lost or were in danger of losing the most important people in their lives.  So many people are focused on some other aspect of life that they are blind to the things and people they could be grateful for.  Many others are insufficiently aware and grateful for the bundle of miracles they themselves are.  Did you know you are a bundle of miracles?  Everything about you and all your natural processes (biologically, psychologically and socially) can be seen as wondrous.  Dare you be grateful?

The Self Enrichment of Gratitude

Do you know that it does you good to be grateful?  First, gratefulness starts with awareness of something you appreciate and appreciation is a form of pleasure, therefore, you pleasure yourself when you experience being in a state of appreciating.  Second, gratefulness for something or someone puts you in a state of sensing a positive connection with that something or someone.  Third, both the pleasuring and the connecting senses tend to stimulate several healthful neurochemical events in your brain which are rather good for you biologically and psychologically.  Gratitude also frequently can give you something to enjoyably share with another person.

Gratitude Expressed

Gratitude shared with someone you love often increases the love and the occurrence of ‘love giving actions’ going back and forth between people who have a love relationship with each another.  Because of gratitude’s positive nature, gratitude shared can help you have or make a positive interaction and strengthen a bond with another person.  Telling someone you love that you are thankful they are in your life and that various actions that they do to express their love toward you is appreciated is best done as a free gift without any expectation of a return.  If there is an expectation of return when expressing gratitude that can be a disguised, selfish manipulation instead of just a true gift of love.  Saying thank you, if done in a perfunctory way without a true sense of gratitude behind it, may make the expression weak and nearly meaningless.

Overdoing it also has its problems.  Going on and on about something you are grateful for may produce embarrassment, awkwardness, suspicion and annoyance.  Usually the best verbal expressions of loving gratefulness are delivered clearly, strongly and shortly.  However, in intimate situations longer and more detailed, love-filled statements can work quite well.  Gifts, cards, notes and special experience gifts which express thankfulness to someone you love often are excellent ways to demonstrate love.  One of the best things about expressing your thanks to a loved one is that it can be fun.  It can be done as a surprise, a special, intimate event or as a social, laudatory and celebratory occurrence.

The gratitude challenge

Let me dare you to be grateful and from that actively thankful for things small, medium and large which others do for you, do on your behalf or do in your direction.  Let me dare you to express your thankfulness with a little more intensity than perhaps you usually do.  Let me dare you to express your thankfulness a little more frequently than is usual for you, and let me dare you to start today!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Right this minute, what will you be thankful for about yourself ?

Love Is Not Arrogant

Mini-Love-Lesson #241

Synopsis:  This mini-love-lesson starts with a brief review of how arrogance and love work against each other; a look at the nature of arrogance; true and false arrogance; its destructive effects on love relationships; an appreciative note on Paul’s unusual inclusion of arrogance in his list of what love is and is not.

How Arrogance Works Against Love                                     

Arrogance acts as a put down to others as it attempts to put up the person who is demonstrating the arrogance.  Love works to help put up, or boost, everyone with no put downs involved.

When a person speaks or acts with arrogance, they may not know it but they are sending a message conveying that they are more okay, important and of significance than the person to whom they are sending the message.  Furthermore, the message conveys that the person they are messaging is of a lesser worth, status and power than merits much notice, attention or interacting with.  That message also may be received and interpreted by those who are very wounded and vulnerable as indicating they are being seen as too unimportant, deficient and flawed to be loved or to even to exist.

Healthy, real love motivates sending a very opposite message.  It works to indicate you certainly are an okay person worthy of attending to, dealing with, noticing, appreciating, caring about and you certainly are of equal, democratic value and importance along with the rest of us. In short you are a person to love and your existence is valued (see “Communicating Better with Love: Mini Lessons”).

What Is Arrogance?

Arrogance has been described as unpleasant, unattractive and undeserved pridefulness.  Arrogance simply can be defined as a pretentiousness of superiority over others.  It often is manifested by behaving insolent, overbearing, contemptuous, pompous, vain, demeaning, smug, imperious, haughty, intolerant, conceited, lordly, entitled, disdainful, bored, dismissive, excessively critical and with exaggerated bragging.

True and False Arrogance

There is true and fake arrogance.  True arrogance is when someone consciously really believes they inherently are superior to others.  Fake arrogance is when someone acts superior but consciously knows or suspects they are engaged in a phony act.  In both cases, it is thought that subconsciously those manifesting arrogance secretly suspect and strongly fear they are actually inferior.  A lack of true, healthy self-love is suspected as being at the root of all that.  Arrogance actually may be a compensating defense mechanism trying to counterbalance the lack of self-love (see “Self-Love -- What Is It?”).

The Why of Arrogance

Arrogance probably exists because it works.  At least it works in shallow, not close, pragmatic relationships but it does not work well in real love relating.  Some people use arrogance to show they are powerful, as a way to dominate in social situations, as a support mechanism giving permission to rudely vent anger, be negatively critical and openly show disapproval, etc., to fend off would-be challengers, avoid being vulnerable and to escape more real and emotionally close, personal interactions which they secretly fear and feel inadequate about.

Arrogance may have evolved from primitive blustering behaviors which helped scare off competition and assisted in keeping underlings compliant and submissive.

The Destructive Effect of Arrogance in Love Relationships

Frequently arrogance tends to have a distancing effect in couples, families and friendships.  That especially is true if the demeaning put down component in arrogance is strong.  There are people who admire what they think is arrogance but often it really is okay pride, playful showing off or just self-confidence they are perceiving.

Healthy, real love is strongly affirmational rather than demeaning and disrespectful as is arrogance.  In some relationships, arrogance is demonstrated through disguised constructive criticism, teasing and other subtly dominating actions.  It also can show up as for your own good manipulative behavior.  All that tends to erode love and frequently results in passive aggressive counterattacks and sometimes eventual relational abandonment.  Sometimes these negative effects are hidden and suppressed but secretly they are accumulating internally.  Then eventually there is a big, destructive eruption and maybe a relational dissolution.

The participants in Love Relationships benefit from healthy self-pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-love partly because none of that needs to have any put down or demeaning component as does arrogance.

Acting arrogant to a loved one tends to decrease rather than increase their respect for you and it is no help at all in growing emotionally closer and more loving with one another.  Emotional distancing that sometimes occurs with arrogance treatment has been cited as increasing the likelihood of an affair occurring.  Arrogance also is thought to help demote democratic teamwork development in couples and families, as it promotes resentment and resistance in the same arenas.  None that can be good for, or part of growing healthy, real love.

Paul’s Inspired Inclusion of Arrogance

Arrogance interweaves with Paul’s tenet of love not being boastful/pretentious but it also presents a whole array of additional components to consider as we already have seen.  Paul’s anti-Arrogance message is one of the more surprising inclusions in Paul’s list of what love is and what love is not.  Not many have addressed the arrogance and love issue but on close analysis there are those who find it insightful, inspired and an essential understanding about love.

Paul wrote love is not “ou phusioutai” which in Paul’s Greek is literally translated as “not puffed up” but then, as now, it is interpreted to mean not arrogant.  Some think it is better translated as love is “not conceited” or “puffed up with false pride” or a “with sense of superiority”.  Perhaps Paul understood that when one person in a love relationship, or a love network has an arrogant sense of superiority over one, or more, others in the relationship, that has a poisonous effect on the love relationship.  This was and still seems to be a rather under-dealt-with understanding of how love does and does not work (see “How Love Works -- Seven Basics”).

One More Thing

Who do you know that might enjoy talking about what you have just read?  Might not doing such talking be expansive and enriching?  If you do it, please mention this site and our many free mini-love-lessons as well as our free subscription service where you automatically, every month receive intriguing, recent and useful information about love, arguably the most important of all topics.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question:  If I love you and treat you arrogantly, have I not just shown you I have deficiencies?

Finding Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #254

The First Place to Look

The first place to find love is inside yourself.  If you have good, healthy, sufficient self-love your chances of finding good, healthy, real love go up dramatically.  If you are hoping that someone loving you will make you okay and then you will be able to love yourself, that can happen but there is a danger.

When you are really hungry for love you may accept anything that looks like love but all too likely, it will not be the real thing.  If you are starved and desperate for love, you are in danger of becoming entangled in a destructive false love.  So, work on your healthy, real self-love and you are much more likely to draw someone to you of quality and real love ability (see “Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life”).

Non-Conscious and Conscious Searching

If you are undernourished for love or just love hungry, your subconscious (deeper parts of your brain) probably are actively searching for love sources whether your conscious mind knows it or not.  Some people believe the romantic myth that if you consciously go looking for love, you won’t find it because love has to be something you fall into or it falls upon you.  Believing that just may make it harder to find.  Mounting evidence strongly suggests that your conscious cooperating with your subconscious while looking for love is likely to work best.

What Is “Finding Love”?

Let us be clear about what finding love really means.  Most people mean finding a special heart-mate to love and be loved by in an emotionally close life partner way.  Some just mean a good sex partner and others just want someone to be officially married to, while still others want an endless romantic involvement.  There are lots of people who definitely do not mean finding an equal adult-to-adult life partner kind of love.  There are lots of people who say they want to find love but their real reasons have nothing to do with actual love.  They may just want safety, to be taken care of, someone to control or be controlled by, etc.

So it is very important that you become clear about what finding love is really all about for you.  Do you know enough about love to be reasonably sure that is what you really are looking for? (See “Definitions of Love Series”)  Do you know enough about yourself to know why you are looking to find love?  It could be it just is natural to do that but are there other reasons?

Quite a few relational authorities who think that what we really are doing when we are hoping to find love is actually looking to find a good candidate to grow a healthy, real, lasting love life with.  Once we find a good candidate our subconscious finds acceptable enough, we then start on the issues of learning how to do love-relating with that person – or not.

Two Ways to Find

Accidentally just stumbling across  something or actively searching for something are the two ways to find anything, including love.  Actively searching works better if you do it smart (see“Hunting for Love”).  Furthermore, when you actively think about searching for a heart-mate, you learn more and you lessen the risk involved in making the gamble of love.  Also, remember love does not have to always be from just one, special other spouse-type person.  You can get and give love lots of different ways, in lots of different forms of relationship (see “A Dozen Kinds of Love to Have in Your Life”).

Knowing Love When You Find It

The romantic myth is you will just know it when you find it because it will feel so strong and different from everything else.  A great many divorced people say they used to believe that myth.  The truth is several forms of false love feel just a strong and make people feel just as sure they found real love as does authentic love.  Another truth is that attraction is not love but it gets easily confused with falling in love (see “Attraction or Love or What?”, Link “Fatal Attraction Syndrome – A False Form of Love”, “False Forms of Love: Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome”).   Some people say you can not know if it is real love or not until you have given it at least six months to grow (see “It Might Be Healthy, Real Love If...”, “Love Is Patient”, “Definitions of Love Series”).

What Most People Are Looking For

One way to find love is by looking for its characteristics showing up in people you meet.  More together, okay and mature people see the prime, characteristic feature of love to be caring.  Caring is the tendency to empathetically and emotionally care and to behaviorally give care to others especially when they are in distress.  To care about the well-being, the feelings (both physical and emotional), the growth and development, the quality of life and the future of a person are all involved here.  Caring shows high valuing of who and what is cared about which is a major characteristic of healthy, real love.  Without caring, the ability to love, at best, is limited.

The second characteristic is the ability to be and interact intimately.  That means emotionally, sexually, mentally and behaviorally.  It also means to make oneself vulnerable via authentic self-disclosure of what is real within oneself.  That can include idiosyncrasies, failings, foibles, weaknesses and ordinariness.  But it also includes revealing what is confident, successful, excellent and just plain good about oneself.  Good intimacy also includes lovingly dealing with the same factors coming from another in ways that show tolerance, acceptance, noncritical understanding and affirmation.

The third factor most more okay people see as representing love is the ability to emotionally connect and, once connected, become dedicated to staying caringly connected irrespective of any and all difficulties that might destroy the caring connection.  This characteristic usually is called commitment.

The fourth factor has to do with having and demonstrating strong, positive feelings about and for a loved one.  It is sometimes known as passionate love and may include sexual feelings and actions but it also involves being intensely for and on the side of the loved.  Feelings of being bonded to and loyal to the loved one also are included here.

Less mature, less okay and certain, but not all, more emotionally troubled individuals are much more likely to think attraction impulses and feelings signify real, heart-mate love.  All too often, this attraction-based belief does not work out well for lasting, love relating.  Attraction can lead to love beginning but it is a different thing.

Finding Someone Good to Love and be Loved By

To find that special someone, do lots and lots of active looking.  Do that looking as many ways as possible but do it smart.  Go where love-oriented people go.  They go where they can be caring to, for and about others, and/or for things of intense, intrinsic value.  They often have careers or avocations that work to achieve worthy, constructive results that benefit others.  They tend to volunteer for stuff that makes improvements happen of one sort or another.  They may be involved in adamant love for various causes having to do with making the world a better place to live in (see “Adamant Love – And How It Wins for Us All”).  Whatever they do they tend to use whatever they can for the good of somebody or something.

Some people are kind of afraid to love someone like that.  They may fear not being good enough or becoming trapped in a goody good, societal sphere.  That is seldom the case.  Such people, as described here, often are iconoclastic, individualistic to a fault, and fierce about fighting for what they believe in.  They also can be quite fun-loving and positive about life.

Love-able and love-oriented people can be found almost anywhere but not so much where more harm is being done than good, or where there is more greed-orientation than contributory.  Their position often is more of the “I win, you win, everybody can win” approach than of the “I must win, you must lose to me” way of dealing with the world.

The Three A’s for Finding Love

The three A’s for finding love stand for assertiveness, attitude and action.  When you use these your chances for finding healthy, real love start to look good.  So, let’s look at each.

Assertiveness means being friendly and lovingly assertive and it is not to be confused with aggressiveness.  Aggressiveness can mean being pushy, annoying, contentious, snide and a host of other undesirable things.  Friendly, loving assertiveness is accomplished by smiles and pleasant facial expressions, gestures, posture movement, voice tones and positive word choice.  Friendly, loving assertiveness tends to attract an array of rather fine people.

Attitude means something you first do for yourself.  Many people find they can self-talk themselves into a good attitude.  A bold, socially adventuresome attitude helps a lot.  Developing a good attitude gets you ready to take the necessary social risks for finding a good heart-mate.  Being mindful of your physical safety is important but being too socially safe gets in the way.  If you get yourself embarrassed you probably doing something right.  Think about the attitude you want to project.  Loving, friendly, caring, sexy, joyous, healthful, confident, self- loving (not arrogant) and love-positive toward life likely will do you well.

Action means do just about everything you can think of to do and also enjoy the adventure of it all.  Yes, use the Internet but also go some places and get a bit involved.  Everything from A for art to Z for zoos has groups of people organized and meeting to support or be involved with those things.  Most of these places have some very fine people you probably would like to meet.  Self-talk yourself into a good attitude and go assertively and meet some of them.  Don’t worry much about what they think of you.  Be more concerned with what you think of them but give them a chance and don’t be too negative.  That is self-defeating.  Scan the group for who looks most interesting and go talk to those people.

Some Other Things to Do

Read these related mini-love-lessons: “Getting Healthy, Real Love In Your Life”, “Above Normal Love”, “From Self-Love to Other Love And Back Again” and “Willing and Ready for Love?”. Give some thought to the study of love itself so you consciously can think about it.  That will help you cooperate better with your subconscious in finding what you want.  Give some effort to focusing on growing and giving love and the major ways that is done. It’s not all about just getting love.  Good heart-mate love usually includes sexuality so if you are not already OK get Ok with sex and especially love expressed in sex along with sexiness.

One More Thing

Talk all this over with some others and see if they might want to go with you as you adventure into new groups of people.  While you are at it, please mention this mini-love-lesson and this site.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Date Your Mate - Always !

(Note: ‘mate’ as used here is the North American, and other’s term meaning ‘a person of ongoing romantic love involvement’ not the Australian or New Zealand (our Oz and Kiwi friend’s), and other’s  ‘acquaintance or friend’ meaning).

Date your mate or lose your mate!  Date your mate to keep your mate!  Have you heard these modern dictums or axioms?  They speak to a modern world love truth you may do well to think about.

Lots of couples come to me complaining that their relationship is not what it used to be.  They worry that they are falling out of love, feel like something is missing that used to be there and wonder what to do about it.  Examining this usually reveals that they are not behaving in ways that keep love alive and growing.  One of the missing ingredients is they have stopped ‘dating’ one another.  They may go out to eat, or go to the movies and things like that but they don’t behave like they are on a date when doing those things.

There are no special preparations like wearing sexy clothes or using a little perfume or aftershave.  When out together there is no flirting, holding hands, sexy innuendos, playful nudges, intimate strokes or romantic squeezes.  Nor is there looking longingly into each other’s eyes, romantic talk, hints of mystery or surprise, or anything else that might identify what they are doing as a date.  Worse there may be problem talk.  It is not a date if there is talk about problems.  It is a meeting!  Dates that grow love usually are best accomplished when two people give each other special, personal, positive focus.  Dates are for intimate compliments, personal appreciations, expressions of enjoyment and sometimes desire and passion.

A real date includes shared laughter, a sense of personal closeness and all things fun and good – not problems, and not a lot of dealing with everyday practicalities and functionality.  Usually after a couple starts taking each other out on new real dates again improvements start to return to their relationship.  This is not the only thing needed but it can be a big jump start toward increasing the special form of love that couples can create.  So, I like to suggest that couples abide by the modern dictums, “Date Your Mate or Risk Losing Your Mate.”  And “Date Your Mate To Keep Your Mate”.

It is especially helpful to go on lots of different kinds of dates.  Here are some to think about.  Mini dates (ice cream store, walk in the park), regular dates (a movie, out to eat), informal dates (coffee shop, browsing a bookstore together), special event dates (birthday, anniversary), dress up dates (a play, the symphony), romantic dates (candle light dinner, carriage ride), adventure dates (balloon ride, mountain hiking), mystery dates (involving unknown destinations and activities), play dates (amusement park, howling at the full moon together – maybe star gazing after), elegant dates (fine art museum, fine dining), sexy dates (tango dancing, a risqué club) at home or at a special hotel sex dates (erotic massage, striptease) and combinations like a romantic adventure date involving riding galloping horses together through the surf on a moonlit night.

One trick to remember is to call it a ‘date’ in order to get in the right mind-set and help you remember to act like you’re on a date.  Avoid doing just the kind of parallel activity that friends can do but instead do the more intimate, special, connecting interactions which are, by the way, good for couples of all ages.  That way you are more likely to keep the love in your love relationship growing healthfully.

As always – Grow in love.

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love success questions
Today will you give thought to the kind of date or special time together a loved one might especially enjoy, and with those thoughts design a date that you ask that loved one to go on?  If you have trouble designing a date how about asking that special loved one today, “What sort of date or time together would you especially like?”  Today would you consider going over the above list of different kinds of dates with them?  If not today, then when exactly?

Ready or Not for Love?

Are you really ready for love?

Explore the following ‘willingness’ issues and you are likely to help yourself be ‘more ready’.  You also may get in touch with the areas of love- readiness you might do well to understand more, need to strengthen, and the areas in which you are most love-able and love-potent.  Which willingness areas can you say “Yes” to, which ones elicit a “Maybe”, and which ones get your “No” or “Probably not yet” response?

Do You Have STRONG :
1.    Willingness to do the work of learning to love well?

2.    Willingness to do the work of practicing loving well?

3.    Willingness to do the work of unlearning unloving, negative thoughts and feeling systems and the negative behaviors that go with them?

4.    Willingness to risk (to let fear and safety NOT be primary)?

5.    Willingness to love yourself healthfully?

6.    Willingness to live love-centered (NOT money-centered, status-centered, power-centered, etc.)?

7.    Willingness to explore and experiment with new ways?

8.    Willingness to be open to both getting and giving love?

9.    Willingness to choose and use the power of love over all other forms of power?

10.    Willingness to be transformed by love (because that’s what happens) into an ever growing, better self?

11.    Willingness to work at using real love to help heal others, and to use real love to heal you of old wounds and the negative thoughts, feelings, and behavior systems those wounds empower?

12.    Willingness to let love deeply connect you with others, life, nature, spirituality, and other love forces in the universe?

Add up your “Yes” responses, your “Maybe” responses, and your “No & Probably Not Yet” responses.  If you have mostly “Yes” responses you probably are well on your way to ‘readiness’ and enriched living through love.  Mostly “Maybe” answers suggest you could use some work on your love readiness and it is advisable to proceed carefully in love matters.  Mostly “No & Probably Not” responses suggest that before you enter your next great love adventure you may want to emotionally strengthen yourself, look much further into understanding the dynamics of healthy real love and how to avoid love trauma and tragedy.

Please know this is not a definitive test just a little guide for examining your possible love readiness.  It also can be used by couples, or friends and family, and others to help each other look a bit deeper into the area of love readiness.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Behaviors That Make And Grow Friendship Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  # 204

One of over 300 FREE mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries -worldwide!

Synopsis: Discover Core, Critical, and Cardinal types of behavior which make friendship happen at all levels from mild to profound.  Then explore the extremely important and highly useful research revealed 12 major subcategories of friendship actions.  A recommendation for usage and furthering your friendship life, plus a few resources for learning more are also given.

Without Action Nothing Happens

Friendships, like love, require actions backed by emotions and thought.  Without certain kinds of behavior occurring, friendships cannot be started, grown, maintained, re-established or repaired.  Thanks mostly to research in social psychology and what is starting to be known as loveology “Is There Really A New Field Called Loveology?”, we know a fair amount about what those behaviors are.  Interestingly, they turn out to be rather similar to the behaviors associated with the getting and giving of healthy, real love.  What follows is a summarization of the behaviors that make friendship happen stemming from some of that growing body of research.

Understanding Friendship at Three Levels

Friendship can be seen to occur at different levels.  Some researchers use the three categories scale starting with mild or light or just beginning friendship, then go to medium but significant friendship, and then on to deep and/or profound friendship love “Understanding Friendship, From Mild Geniality to Profound Love”.

It is suggested that the behaviors that bring about each level are best viewed and understood in ways that are rather different in each of the three levels.  Keeping this in mind helps to understand friendship and friendship actions more fully, accurately and more than superficially.  Like love, friendship does not turn out to be simple.  However, with a little concentrated work, clarity, usefulness and ways to make abundant friendship improvements can become easily evident.  So, to gain the valuable benefits of Friendship and Friendship Love and reap those rewards, we suggest you may want to apply yourself to what follows.

The Three Major Groups of Friendship Behavior

Friendship behaviors have been classified in three major groups. Here they are called
Group I, The Core Behaviors of Friendship
Group II, The Crucial Behaviors of Friendship
Group III, The Cardinal Behaviors of Friendship
All three groups contain four more exact and highly important subcategories. These subcategories are quite similar to a research approach used for categorizing the many behaviors that have been seen to convey and result in healthy real, love and improved love relationships.

These are the behaviors best focused on for starting friendships, maintaining mild or light friendships and for generally being friendly and available for forming new friendships.  These behaviors continue to be important in categories II and III and in the subcategories of more comprehensive and advanced friendship behaviors.

1.  Expressional Friendliness  Includes: Facial Expression (smiles, looks of interest, caring attentiveness, etc.), Voice Expression (tone, speed, upbeat, volume, positiveness, etc.), Gestural Expression (open arms, waving, thumbs up, etc.), Postural and Stance Expression (moving toward, standing beside, leaning toward, etc.).  Note that all forms of expression by motion, (face, body, etc.) have been found to manifest about 55% of the communication value in informal, personal conversations.  Voice expression carries about 35% of the communication value (words only 7%).

2.  Tactile (Touch) Friendliness  Includes tap touches (especially good in beginning friendships), pats, buddy hugs, hand holding, upper body hugs and later full body hugs, etc.).  Such touches are best begun mildly, lightly, quickly, non-invasively, non-romantically and non-sexually and have been known to frequently and rapidly accelerate the development of friendship.

3.  Verbal Friendliness  Includes using friendly, positive words like “good, fine, okay, yes”, polite words like “thank you, you’re welcome, first names”, asking friendly questions, assistive statements like “can I help, can I assist you with that”, supportive words like “I agree”, I am so glad you told me that, I see it that way too” etc.  Note: Do not be phony but do go out of your way to look for sincere reasons to say such things.  Words, by the way, have been found to be only about 7% of the communication value in typical, informal, personal interactions.

4.  Gifting Friendliness  Giving both object gifts and experience gifts can be quite helpful in friendship development so long as the gifting is not overdone, overly expensive, overly frequent or, at first, overly personal.  Giving someone a book is an object gift and taking someone to a movie they want to see is an experience gift.  Experience gifts and symbolic object gifts usually are more impactful than practical gifts.

Here you find the behaviors to focus on for having deeper and more significant friendships.  These behaviors are seen as crucial for growing a friendship from mild to significant and with lasting meaningfulness.

1.  Affirmational Friendship  Included here are honest praises, compliments, statements of personal appreciation, approval, respect and validation along with actions like sharing emotional experiences together, taking a friend’s side in a dispute, coming to a friend’s aid, just being there ready to help, celebrating a friend’s victories and special occasions, etc. and any other action which affirms the worth and importance of an individual to you personally.

2.  Self-Disclosure Friendship  Included here is revealing, by both word and action, your personal and more private idiosyncrasies, foibles, preferences, personal problems, failures, victories, peculiarities, embarrassments, enjoyments, items of pride and joy, and anything else that lets yourself be both more intimately known and vulnerable.  Also included is the willingness to empathetically and nonjudgmentally hear the same kind of disclosures from another.  It is by this process that friendship becomes intimate and usually more powerfully bonded.

3.  Tolerational Friendship  As friendships continue and grow, friends run into each other’s less than pleasant aspects.  That is where friendships encounter the challenge of toleration.  However, some things are not to be tolerated or tolerated only temporarily.  For many, anything which is demonstrably harmful or destructive to anyone’s life, health or well-being fits in this category. 

Notwithstanding that caution, issues of fairness, freedom, truth, compassion, altruism and love also are to be considered here.  Lesser issues of intolerance especially for minor irritations, aggravations and annoyances suggest the possibility of a kind of mental self torturing occurring that correlates with secret or subconscious low self love on the part of the one who feels intolerance for these things.

4.  Receptional Friendship  It is a gift of friendship, and possibly of love, to receive well the actions of friendship and love which come from others.  It is receptionally loving to sincerely focus on those actions and who they come from, to purposefully appreciate them and then, more than perfunctorily, show that appreciation.  It is important to spend time truly appreciating the friendly and positive treatment you get from others, and not fake it.  When you fake it or pass it off too quickly, you do not really receive it or let it do you good.  That, in turn, reduces real friendship connecting.

For growing deep, profound and lasting friendship love, the following subcategories are best focused on because they are seen to be of Cardinal Importance in this more profound process.  They encompass and are supported by the two groups and eight subcategories of behavior already described, plus they go deeper, broader and higher in their focus.  Thus, they yield a substantially deeper, broader and higher experience, more comprehension and sensing of friendship and the actions involved in creating profound friendship.

1.  Nurturing Friendship  Included here are all the behaviors that help people grow and become more than they were.  Nurturing friendship actions are supportive, encouraging, challenging, comforting, difficult truth telling, rewarding, understanding, valuing, sharing, honoring, appreciating, affirming and everything else which helps a person become more of the good things they can become.  Also included are the actions which help someone find and develop their own potentials, better meet their own challenges and better fulfill their own aspirations.

Nurturing means to assist in ways that strengthen, assists in making more effective, more complete, more accurately self honoring and more healthfully self loving.  It also means to do nurturing in ways that are in accord with another’s nature and ways of being their own unique self.  Some examples might be helping someone fulfill a lifelong dream, discover and actualize a hidden talent, improve general life skills and coping abilities, win at love or find ways to enjoy life more fully.

2.  Protectional Friendship  Real friends and true comrades are protective of each other’s safety and well-being and that protection often extends to their friends, family and important others.  Such friends stand together in facing adversity, are allies against enemies and in overcoming destructive occurrences.  They are often on the alert to warn of approaching damage, hurt and harm and are sensitive to and on guard about not being overprotective.  The phrase “I’ve got your back” typifies this aspect of friendship and the behaviors it brings forth.

3.  Healing Friendship  The research shows that friendships are very helpful in healing many maladies and injuries.  If someone you are close to in friendship is injured or ill you tend to act in whatever ways you can to help them get better.  In doing that, your assistive healing influence is practical and obvious.  But just being there with them or even close by, has been discovered to often have a surprising and mysterious healing and healthful effect.

This is true among the physically sick, injured and debilitated and even those undergoing various normal medical procedures like pregnancy and birth.  This is even more true among those psychologically in need of healing.  Just going through a difficulty knowing someone who cares is there for you has a more than is completely understood, healthful effect on many.  In the area of relationship healing, such friendship has been known to save lives, children’s mental health and whole family’s existence.

4.  Metaphysical Friendship  Praying for a friend is the most common metaphysical behavior of friendship but around the world there are many others done in various cultures and societies.  Lighting a candle at an altar, flying a prayer flag, creating a blessing-type sand painting, doing liturgical dancing for spiritually honoring of a loved one or deep friend, the reverential reading of sacred texts, spiritual chanting, singing spirituals, envisioning white and gold light exercises, ritual washing and baptizing and a host of greatly varying religious and spiritual rituals, all constitute metaphysical behaviors that are sometimes done by friends on behalf of friends.

It is hard to prove scientifically but there are well conducted studies showing surprisingly positive and supporting results for doing all of these kinds of metaphysical behaviors.  For certain, they often are beneficial to those who do the behaviors and for the target people who are aware of the behaviors being done on their behalf.  But what about those in deep unconscious states, those unaware that such actions are being conducted and aimed at them, those geographically far away and especially what about the loved dogs, horses, cows and other animals for which such metaphysical actions seem to benefit.  One of the things we do know is that metaphysical, or spiritual if you will, behaviors are enacted often with intense emotional energy, great sincerity and profound love by and for friends.  They, therefore, constitute this separate category of Cardinal Friendship behavior.

Recommendation: To improve your life’s friendship situation, give special attention to the 12 subcategories above and choose which ones you want to make improvements in.  Then set to work on doing so, as you also work to do so from deep inside your heart self.

For further friendship understanding link to mini-love-lessons Friendship and Its Extraordinary Importance, Friendship ‘Like’ to Friendship ‘Love’”, and Understanding Friendship, From Mild Geniality to Profound Love.

Some books you might want to read: Love and Friendship by Allan Bloom, Friends As Family by Karen Lindsey, Friendship: How to Give It, How to Get It by Dr. Joel D. Block, The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis, Friendship by Martin E. Marty, The Meaning of Friendship by Dr. & Sufi Master Nurbakhsh and How to Make Friends As an Introvert by Nate Nicholson.

As always – Go and Grow with love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

PS: Help spread love knowledge.  Tell somebody about this site – okay?

Love Success Question: Are you going to evaluate your own friendship actions using the 12 kinds of behavior described above? (By the way, with just a few adaptations you also can use the same 12 behaviors for evaluating your love behaviors in each type of love relationship – parent, mate, self, etc.).

Re-Sparking Your Love

Synopsis: ‘Sparking’ is first explained, then ascending, leveling off and sinking love relationships; and those in need of re-sparking are discussed; and finally 10 not so usual how-to’s for re-sparking a love relationship 


In years gone by couples talked about sparking, or sparking up their romantic or love-mated relationships.

Sparking could be anything from suggestive flirting to writing and reading love poems, to passionate kissing and erotic fondling. Sparking up could be returning to dating actions, dancing, being seductive and engaging in more than usual sexual action. All this was aimed at causing “sparky” or enlivened, desirable feelings together. Today in our busy world lots of couples could use some sparking or re-sparking.

Ascending, Leveling off or Sinking?

What do you think of the idea that says ‘if you’re love life isn’t growing’ its dying’? A great many couples don’t consciously know it but they have been subconsciously programmed to think that in the early stages of a love relationship it’s all exciting and automatically growing, but then it levels off, and if all goes well it just stays leveled off and ongoing. Sort of like a mesa (a flat top mountain), there’s the climbing up, and you reach the flat place, and you walk on the flat place from then on, until the end and you fall off or have to climb down. Others think that at least some romantic relationships are more like a another type of mountain, one you can keep going higher and higher on.

Then of course there are those who think of romantic relationships more like a swamp, but we will not deal with that right now. In your love relationships, not only with a romantic love partner, but with children and family, with friends, etc. do you think you are going about it in a way that is ascending, i.e. getting better and better, or leveling off, or slowly perhaps, sinking?

Some think there is no such thing as leveling off, there is only very slow deterioration or declining slope. That is the ‘you are growing, or you are dying’ point of view. It is true that lots of spouse-type love relationships do level off and become dull, emotionally flat or bland, and that can lead to stagnation and deterioration without people noticing it soon enough. That is when ‘re-sparking’ your love relationship is likely to help in more ways than you might imagine.

Re-Sparking How to’s and Science

Here are some suggestions, backed up by some scientific evidence as to what they might accomplish:
1. Kiss more, longer and with more variety. Studies at Arizona State University found that couples instructed to kiss more often, reduce their stress hormones and cholesterol levels, along with increasing their happiness.

2. Touch more, especially more lovingly and intimately. Don’t just have perfunctory sex, or if sex has become difficult, do much more caressing, intimate cuddling, and tender erotic and affectionate stroking.

3. Look with love. While mentally focusing on how you love each other, look lengthily into each other’s eyes when talking, don’t just glance, really look with appreciation. The University of California researchers discovered that couples who have good eye contact, and especially with affectionate touching, were a lot happier and felt a lot more appreciated than others.

4. Talk nice. Remember your voice tones can send very different messages than the words you say. Also remember ‘The 5to1 Ratio’. Replicated research at several institutions has shown that couples who average ‘five positive, affirming comments’ to ‘every negative remark’ do the best in happiness and successful, lasting love relating. So praise, compliment and voice thanks frequently. Couples who get ‘5 negatives’ to ‘every positive’ end, or go on in misery endlessly.

5. Sleep close. In Britain researchers discovered that couples who touch as they go to sleep, while they sleep, and when they wake up, and couples who snuggle a lot, and are usually within an inch or less of each other at night are happiest. It seems ‘the further apart physically, the further apart emotionally’. If there are medical reasons not to sleep together, cuddle more before and after sleep.

6. Do new things together. Go new places, take a class together, volunteer, work together for a cause you both are for, learn a new kind of dancing and meet new people. If you want to add new sparks to your heart-life, do new things together that require some learning together. That comes from studies done at the Marital Studies Lab, University of North Carolina.

7. Play with sex toys together. Research done at Indiana University revealed that both males and females who play with sex toys together, and especially vibrators are sexually more satisfied, and interestingly enough they more frequently get regular medical checkups and do better self exams physically.

8. Use visual reminders. Couples who put up pictures from their previous years together, and have mementos around, and have other visual reminders of vacations and other good times together, help to reconnect and inspire them, or in other words ‘re-spark’ their relationship better and more often, plus they plan more good events to put in their life together. That comes from the Couples Lab at the University of Wisconsin.

9. Co-write your love story. According to the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Couples and Adult Families, it will do you and yours a lot of good to write the narrative history of your love relationship. That can start you talking about future hopes and dreams, and help you feel more bonded together and generally ‘re-sparked’.

10. Study Love and It’s How to’s. Clinical evidence points to the couples who really, consciously work to learn more about how to show, receive, grow and make healthy their expressions of healthy, real love do far better than those who do not, and they do better than those who only do this kind of study in a more minor way.

Thanks to AARP for research guidance on these studies.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Are there signs that your major love relationship(s) could use some re-sparking?

Couples Love and Relationship Education Succeeds

Synopsis: Joining the trend?; who’s helped by love and relationship education; what is helped; the many ways to learn about succeeding at couple’s love; the growing popularity of love and relationship education; what to do and not do in choosing love education programs.

Are you part of the growing trend of people getting into love education?  Are you and a beloved working together to learn all the incredibly useful things being discovered that can make couple’s relationships grow and become awesome?  Are you learning with another to practice the practical ‘how to’s’ of successful couplehood?

Who is Helped

Love education works!  Couples succeed more with relationship education!  Couple’s relationship, education research shows it works for all sorts of different kinds of couples who are in all sorts of different kinds of life situations and who come from all sorts of very different backgrounds.  Everyone from affluent Kuwaiti couples in a one hour workshop learning about love and communication to a 42 hour class for low income, Oklahoma couples being taught relationship success techniques  — the research shows couples do better with relationship education.

Well designed and well executed studies of both distressed and not distressed married couples, not married co-habiting couples, couples of multiple socio-economic status levels, couples of different races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities, etc., couples in which one has cancer, couples who have lost a child, couples about to have a child and couples who just had a child, military couples, same-sex couples, couples dealing with addictions, pre-release prisoners and spouses, court ordered parents — they all show improvement when they are involved in love and relationship education programs.

A great variety of different kinds of improvement have been discovered to occur with these couples, and the degree of benefit varies depending on the exact nature of the program the couples are engaged in, and not everyone shows improvement.  However, the data demonstrates that all-in-all improvements occur for all kinds of couples, in all kinds of situations and with all kinds of different life factors when couples engage in love and relationship education programs.  These improvements are well beyond anything occurring in comparison and control group couples who are not involved in these types of programs.

What is Helped

Love, giving love, receiving love, feeling love, feeling loved, growing love, empowering with love, love strengthening, love healing, lasting love, sexual loving and every other aspect of healthy, real love can be expected to improve in a good couple’s love education program.  But that’s not all.  The research shows a tremendous variety of different benefits accrue to those involved in couple’s relationship education.  Such couples significantly increase their chances of having healthy, happy and stable, lasting, bonded relationships.

These fantastic results are put forth in a survey of ‘30 recent research studies’ conducted by various universities, by various state and federal agencies in several countries, and by the U.S. Army and Air Force.

The aforementioned research endeavors showed couples achieving improvements significantly over control groups in factor areas like these: general relationship quality, relationship length, conflict control, relationship knowledge, relational happiness, lowered divorce rates, communication, decreased postpartum depression, decreased relational dissatisfaction, increased positive interaction, decreased negative interaction, decreased incidence of fighting and arguing and related conflict, better parenting, better relating in front of children, increased relationship commitment, relational satisfaction, resolution of differences in conflict, self-regulation, relational adjustments, co-parenting teamwork, parent/child functionality, the elimination of loneliness, greater spousal sense of friendship, dedication, relational confidence, empathetic interaction, intimacy, motivation to improve, acceptance, reduction of distress, coping with stress, mindfulness, relaxation, optimism, autonomy, decreased physical assault, aggression, anxiety, depression, psychological dysfunction and much improved sexuality.

Some follow-up studies of improvements show them still to be in existence as much as two years later.  There also were improvements in physical health.  Blood pressure improvements, decreased medical symptomatology in cancer patients, enhanced salivary oxytocin (a love bonding, neurochemical processor), reduced alpha amylase (a measure of negative physical reaction to stressors and a digestion aid), increased immunity functioning and general healthfulness all improved over that of the control groups studied. WOW, WOW, WOW!

Lots of Ways to Learn Love

Love and couple’s relationship programs come in many forms and many of them only are beginning to be well researched.  There are programs on the Internet, manuals and workbook usage approaches, classroom lectures, group discussion approaches, programs using home visits, dream sharing, guided meditation and mindfulness training, programs using follow-up booster sessions, and more.  Retreat, workshop and seminar formats are common.  The research referred to studied a fair number of those various approaches and found all types of programs produced improvements and could be useful. 

The population sizes in those research efforts also varied greatly.  The smallest was 14 couples in which one spouse of each couple had breast cancer.  The largest study had 5102 new parent couples in eight locations across the US.  The research also has shown that improvements can occur irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nationality and many other sometimes differentiating characteristics.

Growing Popularity

‘Love relationship education programs’ are becoming so popular that the New York Times recently featured a review of a book on this subject.  No Cheating, No Dying chronicles a couple’s journey into the world of relationship improvement education.  They describe themselves as having a good marriage when they decide to improve it further by sampling different couple’s love improvement approaches.  First, they try a published manual’s five-step, at-home program for re-romanticizing their marriage.  However, they quit after step two.  Then they get into a psychoanalytic, couples therapist’s program who wants them only to focus on disagreements, difficulties, what’s wrong, sick, etc.

This makes things much worse in this couple’s previously well functioning marriage.  Undaunted they quit that and get into a positive psychology focus by taking a course on “Mastering the Mysteries of Love”.  That, actually, brings lots of improvements especially in helping them with empathy and sharing.  Later they add a sexuality improvement effort and their erotic life excels.  This book makes it clear that not all couple’s relationship education efforts are going to get good results and a certain amount of carefulness is needed in selecting what is right for you.

What to Do and Not Do

If you want to take your couple’s love relationship to new heights, strengthen and grow your love, and discover the best of love relating I suggest you start getting deeply into learning the ‘how to’s’ of healthy, real, couple’s love.   Also if you want to add to or enhance the mending and healing of a damaged, wounded, or less than fully functional love relationship, do the same thing.  Perhaps you’re already doing that since you’re reading this.  Therefore, keep doing what your doing, maybe even more.  Then you might search for and review various programs available through churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc. along with college non-credit education classes and online programs.

Beware of programs that are more focused on what I call “pulling your weeds” and not focused enough on “growing your flowers”.  Some efforts seem only to want to talk about what can go wrong, or does go wrong, or what is wrong with you, or in other words “the weeds”.  Programs that offer ‘skills training and development’ demonstrating how to make advancements in the positive aspects of love relationships tend to be better than those that only are focused on problem solving.

Frequently problem solving is better handled in couples counseling while advancement and achievement often is better done through courses, workshops, seminars, online programs, etc..  Also be aware that some couple’s education programs are too simplistic, some are too mild and saccharin, some just wrong or stupid, and some flat-out crazy.  Most, however, have something really good to offer, so just be a little careful in your selection.

As I see it, the best ones are the ones that focus on how to give and get love as a couple, really communicating and relating with love, growing your ability to relate with love actions, solving difficulties with love approaches, and generally just doing love well.  If love is not a major element of a couple’s relationship education effort you might want to avoid it.  If love is mentioned but treated in an overly romanticized, vague or impractical manner, or confused with sex you might want to avoid it.  If, however, love is well emphasized, behaviorally related, more clearly defined, and treated as a natural, healthful phenomenon you may have found a good thing.

If you have a loved one who is resistant to, critical of, or disinterested in ‘love education’ you might want to share this entry and the benefits herein – of course, it is best to approach them in a love-filled way.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you identify and tell a beloved person in your life at least three specific things you want both of you to learn about giving and receiving love?

It Might Be Healthy, Real Love ...

1.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner is kind to you in small, medium and large ways.

2.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner praises and compliments you frequently and honestly.

3.    It might be healthy, real love it your love partner doesn’t put you down or make demeaning, degrading or devaluing statements about you to you or to others.

4.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner is protective of you but not overprotective.

5.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner strongly supports your growth, development and advancement, and does not act to hold you back, suppress or repress you.

6.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner is understanding and tolerant of your mistakes, foibles and unsuccessful efforts.

7.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner supports your efforts to love the people you love.

8.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner enjoys seeing you enjoy life.

9.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner actively helps you with your interests and nurtures your cherished involvements.

10.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner lovingly touches you back when you give a loving touch.

11.    It might be healthy, real love if what is important to you is important to your love partner just because it’s important to you.

12.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner shares their emotions with you and wants the same from you.

13.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner treats you democratically and as an equal.

14.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner treats you with honesty even when it might lead to difficulty.

15.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner frequently is joyous about loving you and being loved by you.

16.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner keeps desiring to know all about you – your current thoughts, feelings, actions, hopes, plans, dreams, preferences and all that’s special about you.

17.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner enjoys having ‘emotional intercourse’ as well as sexual intercourse with you.

18.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner wants to help you achieve your wants as much as they want to achieve theirs.

19.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner is not sexually selfish.

20.    It might be healthy, real love if your love partner is seldom indifferent to you.

21.    It be healthy, real love if when ‘making love’ mutual pleasuring is more important than performance.

22.    It might be healthy, real love if you and your love partner clearly and easily ask each ask each other for what is wanted, instead of relying on hints, ‘mind reading’, or the false idea that love gives magic, automatic knowledge.

As Always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Which of these statements grab your attention the most; and what do you suppose that is telling you?

Do You Love with Laughter?

Do you know you can love someone by helping them laugh?  You also can love them by laughing with them (not at them).  Laughing together helps the love connecting process grow stronger.  Smiling, saying something funny, witty, humorous, etc. is a real plus for all sorts of love relationships.

This especially applies to friendship love, parent/child love, mate love, and comrade love, plus it is very likely to be constructive in a good many other types of love relationships.

Loving with laughter sometimes is especially good for helping people under stress ‘lighten their load’, panicked people ‘get a grip’, and angry people not take things so seriously.  Loving with laughter can give needed relief by assisting people be, at least temporarily, distracted from physical and emotional pain, fear, anxiety, other bad feelings, and also from life’s problems and difficult situations.  A good loving ‘laughter break’ often helps people approach a difficulty from a new and better angle seeing solutions they were blinded to previously.

Not only does loving with laughter help your loved one but it helps you too.  Besides creating a positive, happy environment for both of you, hearty laughter releases healthy, feel good, beneficial chemicals in your body.  The bio-sciences have produced many reports indicating laughter can reduce stress, promote relaxation and strengthen our immune system.  So, do yourself a favor and laugh with your loved ones often.

Loving with laughter is especially helpful in romantic and mate type love development.  It helps lovers reduce tension, feel more at ease, feel more connected, sometimes be more self disclosing and want to be around each other more.  It is no wonder that the most common thing women say that attracted them to a lover was “He made me laugh”.  A human love relationship without laughter can be too heavy, too serious and too draining.

There are a couple of things to be careful about.  One is ‘put down’ humor.  Putdown humor occurs when the humor depends on someone being demeaned, criticized, the butt of a joke, etc..  It may work in some friendships but it is seldom a plus in mate or romantic type love.  Put down humor can grow especially toxic when the putdowns are being aimed at the one you love.  Frequently the person being put down comes to feel degraded and disrespected instead of enjoyed.  The trick is to not ‘make fun of’ but rather have fun with those you love.  Whenever you help a loved one feel like they are being made fun of, secret or subconscious resentments tend to grow, a fight or even a breakup may ensue.

No matter how funny you may think demeaning humor, clever putdowns, critical joking, and discounting satire are they all can be quite detrimental to a love relationship. This can be true no matter who or what the target of the negative humor is.  Humor that depends on any form of prejudice also may be quite destructive to a love relationship.  Another thing to watch out for is too much laughing at yourself.  Self-effacing humor, even though it causes laughter, may subtly teach another person to think more poorly of you.

Cruelty-based or dependent laughter of any kind promotes cruelty which may eventually be turned on everyone and anyone in a relationship network.  Also to be avoided in doing healthy real love is falsely laughing at someone else’s jokes, witticism, satire, etc..  Falsely laughing practices and promotes being deceptive, giving false information about what you like or find funny, and it reinforces the increase of a behavior you don’t want to see more of.

The best love laughter probably occurs with positive surprises.  An unexpected compliment, the unusual rewarding event, and the unforeseen affirming action are examples.  Consider a surprise birthday party, an affirmation-filled singing message, the discovered upbeat love note, flowers for no special occasion or a puppy gift.  All are likely to produce smiles and laughter in a way that also can convey and promote healthy real love.  Strange and odd ways of seeing things, saying things and doing things can provide not only laughter but an intimate sharing of one’s unique special self.  That is almost always good for growing a close, endearing love relationship.

Also important is being silly together.  Lighthearted, shared, silly actions, words, looks, gestures, etc. all can be super constructive in many kinds of love relating.  This can be doubly important in sexual love.  Silly sex is one of the best types of sex according to many couples.  The fun-filled, naked pillow fight, the giggle-filled secret sex in a public place, and the laughter inducing wearing of absurdly sexy attire are examples.  Lovingly laughing together at sexually involved awkward moments, clumsy maneuvers, botched attempts, and fizzled finesse, along with larger sexual misadventures is often crucial.

Shared loving laughter can help you not to get stuck, stopped or in a rut concerning sex.  Laughing together can make even upsetting sex-related misdeeds, indiscretions and disasters into  precious, funny, shared love memories such as “Remember the time we set the pillow on fire”, “the minister arrived at our house unexpectedly and we had to scramble for our clothes”, and “how Auntie Matilda responded to the elephant’s erection”.

Loving smiles and laughter also can come from using precious, funny, little nicknames: Diddlesitlittle, Poofuddle , Sugams, and Dimpleduster to name a few I’ve heard.  Using special oddball terms for the ordinary like “At their house lovers eat dinnuch at 4:30 P.M.” helps with laughter and closeness.  Giving loved ones a loving wink, nudge, thumbs-up gesture, V for victory salute, etc. all done with little laughs and smiles are also precious.

Laughing while talking with sexy innuendos for example “Do you want some”, “Last night did you get some”, “Are you going to give him (or her), or both some tonight”, “Give me some right now and I’ll make sure you get some right along with mine” ad infinitum.  This shared  sexiness with a little fun helps many love relationships to be intimate and special.  Best of all can be simple laughter itself, for no other reason than just being happy in love.

So, I want you to ask yourself, “How are you doing at loving with laughter?”

As always –grow in love! And laugh often.

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Image credits: “heart faces background” by Flickr user jelene (Jelene Morris).

Want New and Better Love in the Next Year?

Mini-Love-Lesson  #262

Synopsis: Love can be felt and love can be done. This mini-love-lesson focuses on the getting it done part, and doing love ever better in spite of some dangers.  There is a simple, quick love rating scale to help you evaluate where you are in your love relating world; followed by how to analyze its results and use them for growing ever better love in the coming year, no matter how good or bad love was for you last year.

Ever Better Love

Love is one of those things that always can be done even better than it was before, no matter how good it was – or wasn’t.  Love feelings come naturally but doing love takes active participation in the doing part. That, of course, takes figuring out and learning what to do.  This means, if you want your next year of love relating to go better than the last, you probably will have to  do some learning and thinking about doing love.  This mini-love-lesson is aimed at helping you do just that.  It begins with a simple evaluation exercise to help you see where you might want to focus your improvement efforts.

Caution – Danger – Don’t Do’s

Let’s look at something you may be non-consciously programmed to do which many of us relationship researchers, coaches, counselors and therapists tend to see as common and, more often than not, destructive and frequently even disastrous.  It has to do with trying to do love with only part of yourself instead of with your whole self.  We tend to succeed at love better when all our major parts get involved.  One part many are subconsciously programmed to leave out is our conscious thinking self.  This kind of program may read something like this.

“For doing love you can only rely on your intuition and your love luck.  After all, love is done by unknowable magic, or maybe done by how your parents treated you when you were an infant and, in any case, you can’t do anything about either, so don’t try.  In fact, trying gets in the way.  You only can hope and maybe pray.  Otherwise, how you do love and love relating only can be carried out by your intuitive impulses, governed by your luck at love.”

Your personal program may read rather differently or similarly to that.  However, if it is in any way like that, know that it is antithetical to the knowledge and teachings of a great many of our time-honored sages, wisdom masters and spiritual leaders of old, plus it is in opposition to a lot of recent research, all of whom have a lot to say about how to do love and do it well.

Quick Rate Your Love Relationships

First, look over the following list of a dozen forms of love relationship and pick out the ones you want to give a rating to then give them a check mark.  Next using a scale of 0 to 10 (zero meaning the worst and 10 meaning the best) quickly rate how well you estimate you are doing at love relating in each those relationships you have checked.  Don’t over think any of them.  You can do that later if you wish.  Just use a quick first impression approach.

Forms of Love Relating to Rate. (Using 0 – 10 or NA for not applicable)
1. Pet love ____, 2. Friendship love ____, 3. Family love ____, 4. Love of children ____,
5. Love of Parent Figures ____, 6. Love of special heartmate (spouse etc.) ____,
7. Healthy Real Level of Self ____, 8. Spiritual Love ____, 9. Love of Life ____,
10. Love of others, people, etc. _____, 11. Love of nature _____,
12. love of a special cause, endeavor, involvement, group or population ____.

Evaluation and Analysis

Now, examine your highest ratings and ask yourself how might you do even better in those higher rated, important areas?  Maybe make some notes or start a file.  Then, examine your low scores asking yourself if you really want to make any improvements in those lower scored relationships?  If so, you might circle them.  Now, look closely at the middle-range-ratings asking yourself if those relationship areas might merit further focus and exploration?  Finally, look at the forms of love relating you did not rate asking yourself what you might want to do so that you could easily and quickly have a rate to give in those areas?

Now you can choose to go back and give longer, more full thought to any of the forms of love relating you might want to examine more deeply how you think and feel about them – or not.  Again, maybe making some notes?  I recommend you also give yourself an overall, not too critical or praising, tentative, general analysis statement about what this is telling you about you and your world of love relationships.  Put that into exact words, as best you can, and keep it wherever you might want to.  Then take it out tomorrow and review it again adding or subtracting from it, and do it again in a week.

Improvement Usage

Now, I suggest you start toward making your plans for love improvements in the next year.  This is sort of like making New Year’s Resolutions.  To make them work, you probably have to check up on doing them in some regular way, like once a week, once a month, every six weeks, etc. using a calendar and/or reminder system.

Making a doing love better plan is usually best done with specifics like who or what is exactly the target of your efforts, what exact behaviors will you do (give a particular compliment, kiss, hug, favor, dozen smiles, an hour of undivided attention, take to a movie they want to see, etc., etc. etc.).  Also specifics  on what day and time will this action be taken, when and how you will record and evaluate afterwards and plan a next action.  You can include generalities like I will be kinder, happier toward them, attentive, affirmative, etc. but unless you add more behaviorally specific actions, it is not likely much actually will happen often enough.

If your love improvement plan also includes things you want not to do like stop getting mad so easily, talk over others when they are talking, immediately bringing up problems and negative issues when first encountering loved ones, etc. that is half a success-oriented plan.  It also is important to add what you will do instead of the action you wish to stop or limit.  Without the instead action, old action habits tend to prevail.

Now for New Learning

To do new and better thinking about anything, usually requires new and hopefully enjoyable learning.  Here is my suggestion for that.  At this site, go to the two indexes of the mini-love-lessons.  In the Title Index, scan down the titles once a week, on the same day of the week, preferably for the next 52 weeks.  Every time you do this, pick a title that gets your attention for whatever reason and read it, think about it, make a note or two about it and see if there is a way to use it for doing love better love in your next week.  After you have some notes written, review some of them each time you write new notes  When you miss a week, do two the next week.


Using the Subject Index, find a Large Topic Area that for whatever reason seems to interest you a bit more than the others.  Then scan the mini-love-lesson titles listed in that topic area and once a week read one of them, following the same instructions as above.  Do this until you want to change to another Large Topic Area.  Then do so.  Keep doing this until you have read, thought about and made some notes, plus reviewed some of your past notes hopefully for 52 weeks.  Each time you do this, record or draw a :-) on your calendar or on your way of keeping your record of love actions taken.

By doing this, you very likely will teach yourself how to make your ways of love relating and doing love better, and better, plus making it a habit to do love actions more regularly.

One More Thing

Discussing what you have just read with others tends to help you more diversely expand and develop your thinking about what you have read, plus it often leads to other stimulating topics.  That is thought to be because discussing ideas uses different and additional parts of your brain than does thinking silently by yourself – which does have its own advantages.  If you do discuss this mini-love-lesson with others, please mention this site and its many love lessons aimed at helping all people to love more and better.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: If knowledge is power as they say, won’t new love knowledge empower you to do love more and better love as long as you keep acquiring new love knowledge?