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Showing posts with label myths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label myths. Show all posts

Fatal Attraction Syndrome - A False Form of Love

Synopsis: This mini love lesson first explorers a real life example of this false form of love’s deadly attack possibility; then answers what is a fatal attraction; and what is a fatal attraction syndrome; is there a difference between men and women with this syndrome; and what can be done.

A Deadly Attack

Dark was just falling and she slowly pulled her car deep into the shadows of the overhanging trees, across the street from her lover’s house.  She looked into a large bay window where his dining table was set for the evening meal.  Her furor grew as she watched her lover and his wife and their three children laugh and cheerfully sit down to enjoy a time of family love together.  She kept thinking “kill the mother, kill children and he will have to turn to me.”

When she saw her lover reach over and kiss his wife on the cheek she put the car in forward gear.  His wife kissed him back and he obviously enjoyed it.  Her foot stamped down on the accelerator and she took aim with the car.  Then at full power and with insane rage she raced full speed at the bay window. Her last thought was “Even if I kill all of us, I will have him with me in eternity”.  This is what she later related sitting in a women’s prison convicted of attempted murder.

Due to very good house construction no one died but all sustained serious injuries , one child crippled for life.  More than a year of family, individual and couple’s counseling brought the family through the ordeal that followed.  Expert testimony presented the perpetrator of this tragedy as suffering from the most dangerous of all ‘false forms of love’, that of the Fatal Attraction Syndrome.  That diagnosis, however, did not qualify her for an ‘innocent by reason of insanity verdict’ as her lawyer’s psychiatrists recommended.

This is but one of a number of traumatic and tragic fatal attraction cases I have dealt with in my work with the families of murdered victims, and as an expert witness.  Let me say that I also have worked with a number of people trying to escape from being the victim of a fatal attraction syndrome and with those suffering this affliction, and with that perspective I can tell you – it is not easy work.

What Is A Fatal Attraction?

A fatal attraction is simply defined as an attraction that can and sometimes does lead to death. Think ‘moth to candle flame’.

The fatality may be of the one who is attracted, as in the case of the moth.  The targets of the attraction also are in danger of dying via murder when the full, fatal attraction syndrome is at work.  Sometimes both die, as all too often happens in a murder-suicide termination of a fatal attraction relationship.  Whoever stands in the way of a person suffering a fatal attraction syndrome, and various innocent bystanders, also can be in serious danger of being the victims of fatal attraction syndrome dynamics.  In other words, no one dealing with a person in a severe fatal attraction syndrome dynamic should consider themselves safe.

What Is a Fatal Attraction Syndrome?

A fatal attraction syndrome is a fairly complicated, false love phenomenon involving a very destructive, obsessive and compulsive pattern of relational behavior.  It begins when a person first finds themselves, sometimes suddenly, very strongly psychosexually attracted to another person.
Quite commonly there grows up a delusional, fantasy conviction that the target of their attraction is, or certainly will become equally attracted to them.  The person afflicted with this syndrome then becomes increasingly, sometimes rapidly obsessed with seeking a possessive, controlling, intimate, exclusive, love-getting relationship with the targeted person.

Increasingly little or nothing else matters but the growing, consuming drive to have the targeted person become and be constantly available, and when that person is present for them to be fully focused on satisfying the desires of the one suffering this affliction.

This consuming drive eventually obliterates healthful, normal, interpersonal functioning though sometimes a semblance of outward normality superficially can be maintained.  In one fashion or another the behavior becomes more and more abnormal and extreme, and the emotional needs of the person experiencing the syndrome become increasingly impossible to satisfy.  When that happens truly crazy thinking mixed with horrible to experience emotions dominate and all too frequently lead to deadly behavior.

This syndrome is a form of False Love because it is not motivated by a desire and drive for the well being of the loved one, as is healthy, real love.  Instead, it is motivated only by a desire to get love.  People afflicted by this syndrome easily move toward harming the supposed loved one while real love is healthfully protective of the loved one (See “The Definition of Love” at this site).

How Does A Fatal Attraction Syndrome Work?

No one knows for sure how fatal attraction syndrome works because doing research on it, as you might imagine, is quite difficult.  Psycho-dynamically the thinking goes something like this.  A person encounters someone who sub-consciously reminds them very strongly of the mother they had when they were an infant, or father they had as a young child.

This sets off an infantile need to obtain the targeted person’s caring attention, focused nurturance and other behaviors indicative of love.  This grows into a regressive drive to have all needs satisfied by this one other person, which of course is impossible.  Thus, this insatiable drive becomes infuriatingly frustrated, which in turn triggers infantile rage.  Sometimes in uncontrolled fits of anger, and sometimes in diabolical well-planned and carried out actions destruction results.

Another theory is that there is a neuro-physiological or neuro-chemical maladaptive occurrence in the brain which is triggered into malfunctioning when psychosexual attraction mechanisms are activated.  It is hypothesized that this brain process may be a primitive mechanism going slowly out of existence but once was helpful in acquiring and retaining mating partners.

Since it so commonly is unsuccessful and so frequently results in the death of those who cannot escape it and in the death or incarceration of those who perpetrate this syndrome, it is speculated by some that it could be a way to wipe out the weak.  Thus, it would represent a ‘survival of the fittest’, evolution mechanism favoring those who go about love in a more loving, adult way.

Still others think that if ‘obsessive/compulsive disorder’ brain chemistry and ‘mate attraction’ brain chemistry mix with each other they may make a monstrous neuro-chemical mess in a person’s brain causing this syndrome.  This especially is likely if there is the added complication of severe ‘parent/child attachment insecurity’ in the background of the afflicted person.  All these explanations are hypothetical, educated guesses; no one knows for sure.

What About Sexuality in a Fatal Attraction Syndrome?

Sexuality usually plays a big role in this syndrome, but not always.  Quite frequently the sexual desires of the one experiencing the syndrome are part of the ‘need package’ they want satisfied by the person they have fixated on.  It frequently seems that the sex desires of the afflicted grow more peculiar, then bizarre and extreme, and finally dangerous.  When the sex desires get to a level where they cannot be satiated, violent sexuality may result.  This is where death sometimes occurs.

Does Loving a Person with This Syndrome Make a Difference?

So far the evidence available would suggest that in the long run, even with lots of healthy, real love being showered on the fixated person, it probably won’t have a sufficient, curative effect.   Certainly there may be cases where love has made a sufficient difference, and that probably especially is true in the early stages of this difficulty.

Some people who suffer from this syndrome become stalkers and in other ways keep invading the privacy and personal lives of their targets.  They never get close enough to be loved but in the process they can cause lots of fear and misery in their target.  The love of family and friends may help somewhat.  Also putting stalkers, privacy invaders, etc. (especially the scary, threatening ones) in prison long enough that they may mature, seems to help some.

With other people the syndrome seems to start after a relationship has been going for awhile, and they indeed could be loved by the one who becomes their obsessional target.  Once the syndrome takes hold, the love given to the obsessed person becomes ‘never good enough’, ‘big enough’ or ‘right enough’, or so it seems.

I consulted on a case that involved what seemed like a quite romantic and erotic relationship, that was doing well for more than a year.  However, when she wanted a little more time to herself he became compulsively domineering, insisting that her career be put aside along with her family and her friends, and that he be the only person in her life.

This led to a violent breakup.  He then followed her, bugged her house and all sorts of similar invasive things.  Physically violent fights erupted in public.  Restraining orders, and injunctions, arrests and other legal and police actions only seemed to make it worse.  It ended when he smashed down her front door with an ax, and then smashed through the bathroom in which she was hiding, and at the last possible second she brought out the gun the police had advised her to carry, and when he still raised the ax and advanced on her she shot him through the heart, killing him instantly.

Is There a Difference between Men and Women with This Syndrome?

No, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference.  Both men and women are susceptible to becoming dominated by fatal attraction syndrome.  Some people think that females who had more difficulty being loved by their fathers and males by their mothers experience this syndrome, but no one knows that I’m aware of.  One group that some people think is less susceptible to being afflicted by this syndrome are those who seem to be fairly strongly bisexual.  Another resistant group is made up of both the men and women who become strongly, healthfully self-loving.

What can be done?

For those men and women who suspect they may be in the destructive throes of this syndrome, seek therapy with a psychotherapist who is experienced and works deeply and powerfully.  If medicines are prescribed, take them.  If hospitalization is recommended, go.  This is a serious condition that all too often only gets worse without help.

For the friends and family of people they think might be caught up in a Fatal Attraction Syndrome get them to therapy.  If they are violently acting out already, get the police involved.  Then love them a lot, and if requested to go to family therapy to help also.

For those who are targeted, if you are being stalked or if you are experiencing other invasions like your computer being hacked or phone being tapped, seek the aid of police and possibly an attorney, then go to counseling for yourself.  Also take lots of safety precautions like double locking doors and windows and obtaining a good burglar alarm.  As much as possible be with people who can protect you.

If things are going from bad to worse, in spite of those safety actions, I’m sorry to advise doing what so many end up having to do to save their lives.  That is disappear.  Many people only have survived this severe syndrome by moving to another city, out-of-state or even out of the country.
A fatal attraction syndrome can involve incredibly powerful obsessions and compulsions, and in an especially bright person can be extremely difficult to escape.

I’m aware of a case in which he searched for her for three years and found her in another nation, forced her to put on scuba equipment, took her down deep in a lake, tied her to a sunken log, cut off her air supply, tied himself to a log and cut his own throat, so they died together in the only peaceful place he had ever known.
I’m also aware of a woman who after eight years found her targeted person and managed to secretly poison him, though he did survive and she’s in prison now, still writing him passionate letters.  The extremes to which fatal attraction syndrome afflicted people sometimes go can be both intensely frightening and quite astonishing.

For everyone else, watch out for people who are overtly domineering, perfectionistic and controlling, covertly needy and insecure, obsessional, compulsive, idealistic about romance, have few or no true close friends, are sometimes violent and have outbreaks of rage, who are actively substance addicted, false love addicted, are easily jealous, can’t hear criticism or negatives about themselves, and who were likely either ignored a lot or suffocatingly parented.

Again, arming yourself with real, love knowledge in order to identify false love behaviors and syndromes is self-loving protection and could save your life.  Good luck and beware.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Do you love yourself enough to stay away from a person who might seem to be prone to fatal attraction syndrome, even though otherwise they seem to offer you everything you ever wanted in a love relationship?  If you suspect you may be afflicted with this syndrome do you love yourself enough to immediately go get deep, strong help from a loving but powerful therapist?

False Forms of Love: The Devastating IFD Syndrome

Strong, tall, handsome Trent came into my office with tears streaming down his rugged cheeks.  In a groaning, deep tone voice he almost whispered, “I have lost my reason to live.  I lost her – my one, true love.  She was so perfect and I drove her off.  I tried and tried and I can’t get her back.  How am I going to go on?

She won’t have anything more to do with me.  My life is ruined.  It hurts so bad”.  Then he spilled out the story of their relationship.
It was a familiar tale.  Like so many before him Trent had become a victim of one of the big, romantic love killers, the sometimes even fatal IFD Syndrome.

Trent had met and come quickly to think of Tricia as ‘perfect’ in every way.  Things went quite well for them until one day she cut short her long, flowing, gorgeous, locks which had been just right as Trent had seen her lovely hair.  Ever so carefully Trent told Tricia how her hair had looked ideal long and flowing.  He gently insisted she grow it back and never cut it again, plus he sort of pontificated that this was how females should look.  Soon after Tricia started wearing rather short skirts with low necklines.

With some frustration Trent told Tricia it was no longer appropriate for her to wear her clothes like that since they were now in a committed relationship with one another and that type of look was just for attracting men.  Soon thereafter Tricia’s skirts became even shorter and her necklines lower, plus she became rather flirtatious with other men at various gatherings.  As Trent saw it her femininity also was marred by her increasingly risqué talk.  Trent decided he must correct her ways and get her back to acting like she did when he met her.  He tried reason, guilt trips, cajoling, anger and everything else he could think of to get her to conform to the ideal girl he had perceived her to be at the beginning of their relationship.  The more he tried and failed the more frustrated he got.  Then Trent and Tricia began to fight about all sorts of stupid, little things.

That went on for quite a while and kept getting worse.  The end came one day when Trent, in a state of extreme frustration, risked saying “You’re just not the girl I fell in love with and if you don’t go back to being her we are done!”.  Trisha replied, “I am the same girl I always was and if you really loved the real me you would love me as I experiment with new, innocent stuff, go through ordinary changes and find little ways to be more me.  I haven’t done anything I’m ashamed of and you don’t have a right to censor me.  The core, real me is the same.  I don’t think you ever saw the core me and I don’t think you love the real me either.  You’re just in love with your image of me, so, yes, we are done”.  And done they were, leaving Trent defeated, demoralized, dejected and nearly suicidally depressed, trapped in the devastating “D” phase of a strong IFD false love syndrome.

Way back in 1946 a rather then famous linguistic psychologist, Dr. Wendell Johnson, published a book describing the IFD Syndrome and telling of how it negatively effects almost everyone sooner or later.  He called it a “disease” that is particularly common and devastating among university students, sending many into breakdowns and mental hospitals.  Unfortunately mental-health professionals mostly do not read linguistic psychology publications and so this phenomenon went largely unnoticed in the therapeutic community, although it was fairly well received in social psychology and for a time by the lay public.

An experimental psychologist introduced the IFD Syndrome to me when I was in my residency at a psychiatric hospital and we did an in-house study concerning IFD and suicide.  Our results showed that a significant 28% of our most seriously suicide attempting, young, adult patients made their serious suicide attempts in the “D” phase of an IFD Syndrome.  It appeared Dr. Johnson was right about the commonness and severity of this form of false love.  This pattern also showed up in other age ranges to a significant but somewhat lesser degree.

The IFD false love syndrome is thought to work like this.  First, in your childhood and youth you subconsciously begin to get ideas of what your ideal love mate will be like.  This grows into an idealized image of what ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ ‘Just Right For You’ will look, sound, act and be like.  Then one day you meet someone who seems to be rather like that idealized, just right, one and only love mate for you.  Your subconscious then projects your idealized image onto that person, blinding you from seeing who’s really there.  Just as you do not see the screen at the movies you only see what’s projected onto it, so too you only see your idealized, projected image and not the real person who is there.  The letter “I” in the IFD syndrome stands for “idealized image” or just “idealization”.

In time you begin to get glimpses of who is really there and you don’t like it because it’s different than your ideal image.  This can be said always to occur because people are dynamic, changing, growing, altering, maturing, etc. and because people are more complex than idealized images.  So even if a person stays pretty much the same for a time the person doing the projecting will start to see more than was seen at first and that will be unexpected, disconcerting and frustrating.  Of course for a time the person you project your idealized image onto may artificially act in accord with what you desire as a way to relate to you.

Eventually new and differing aspects of the ‘real person’ will emerge into your awareness and that will be more troubling to you.  Another way to think about this is that since no two things can be exactly alike your idealized image and a real person cannot be the same, and with time that will be discovered and become disturbing.

What comes next is growing frustration.  As you try to get your lover back up on your ‘idealization pedestal’ and try to get them to ‘act right’ they keep stepping down off your pedestal and being themselves.  After all, pedestals are very narrow, dull places on which to live even if, at first, they seem flattering and safe.  People who live on a pedestal come to feel unloved because in truth they are not loved but only idealized.  Healthy, real love accepts change, supports growth and understands the need for maturation and variety.

For a time in the “F” phase things progress in a troubled way.  As you observe more discrepancies between your static, idealized image and the dynamic reality of the person you are with, often you compulsively and sometimes even desperately attempt to get your lover to regress to what you first saw them to be.  Frequently that person resists overtly or covertly, and you become ever more frustrated, often angry and perhaps even violent.  [It is important to note that the one you think you love must exist as their real self to be healthy, because if they are forced or submit to other than who they really are they often may deteriorate into depression or some other illness.]  But, as you see it, any change is “for the worse” not change for the better.

Usually the relationship becomes increasingly conflicted, difficult and full of more frustration, along with fewer and fewer demonstrations of love.  Unloved people subconsciously, if not consciously, go looking for love and this can lead to cheating and all the frustrations that go with that.  Escape into some form of destructive, self abuse or addiction also may occur to either person if the “F” phase of an IFD Syndrome is prolonged.  The “F” in the IFD stands for “Frustration” and the fight for and against getting the idealized lover to return to the projected ideal.

After living in the “F” stage of an IFD Syndrome finally, by one means or another, the relationship fails completely.  Then the person who did the idealizing (Trent, in the example above) enters the “D” phase of the syndrome.  This happens when the idealizer realizes they’re not going to get their ideal lover, that person is lost, unattainable, and the ideal they had fixated on is likely never to be realized.  If that happens to you in a love relationship you enter a phase of feeling devastated, demoralized, dejected, defeated and all too often temporarily, clinically depressed, even sometimes to the point of being suicidal for a time.  The “D” in the IFD Syndrome stands for those “D” words in the sentence above: demoralized, depressed, etc..  The clinical depression can happen because love situations effect the neurochemical processes of your brain, sometimes quite positively and sometimes quite negatively.

By the way, know that IFD dynamics can occur with lots of different human endeavors.  Some people idealize their parents, or their children, or their spiritual leader, or religion, or political philosophy, or their country, etc..  The results of strong idealization are inevitably the same.  After idealizing someone or something the one doing the idealizing becomes frustrated when he or she sees that which they idealized is falling short or differing from the ideal.  Then the idealizer becomes demoralized when he or she realizes ideals exist only in the mind and not in reality, and the ideal, therefore, is unobtainable and impossible.  However, love and romance-related idealizations often are the worst type to experience when they enter the “D” phase.

Trent, who was quite bright, was helped enormously by learning of the IFD dynamics and how they worked.  He also was helped quite a lot by spending time in a therapy group where others told him of having gone through the IFD Syndrome and come out just fine, often in a surprisingly shorter time than predicted by their mental health professional.  Some mild, mood stabilizing medications which blocked Trent from sinking too low in his depression also had short-term usefulness.  A word of caution here.  Those who have suffered from IFD Syndromes sometimes are thought to have been confused with much more long-lasting mental illness conditions and, thereby, may have been over-medicated and otherwise improperly treated.

For those who get seriously depressed in an IFD pattern just staying alive for 6 to 12 weeks seems to get them over a hump.  That’s because by then for most people the brain adjusts and produces healthier brain chemistry that helps the sufferer to better process the whole relationship dynamic they have been through.  Most unfortunately a number of people in the “D” phase of an IFD pattern are thought to have successfully committed suicide before that amount of time has passed and they could feel better and see clearer.

So, if you think someone is in a serious “D” phase of an IFD Syndrome try to get them to a good therapist who can help them through this sometimes dangerous phase and on to healthier love relating.  It also is important to know that some people get stuck in repeating the IFD Syndrome with a whole string of lovers.  Others get married in the “I” or “F” phase and then divorce in the “D” phase.  Some do this over and over.

The good news is most people who go through an IFD Syndrome come out of it and go looking for new and better understandings of how healthy, real love works.  They have a good chance of developing the real thing.  Again, a good love-knowledgeable counselor or therapist can help make that outcome happen a lot more likely, more quickly and much more completely.

Trent recovered fully and went on to a healthy, real love that worked well.  Later he got to know Trisha again in a much different situation.  His final comment about her in a counseling session was, “Trisha is OK but frankly I don’t know what I saw in her that I was so passionate about.  She seems nice but she’s not someone I’d want to spend a lot of time with”.  His closure statement is representative of most of the final IFD Syndrome outcomes.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you have an ideal love mate in your mind, against which you unrealistically compare all real people?  If so what are you going to do about that?

False Forms of Love Series
False Forms of Love: Limerence and Its Alluring Lies
False Forms of Love: Meta Lust
False Forms of Love: Shadow Side Attachments
False Forms of Love: The Devastating IFD Syndrome
False Forms of Love: Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome

What Your Brain Does with Love - Put Simply

Mini-Love-Lesson #208

Synopsis: Where your heart resides in your brain and what that has to do with the many emotions triggered by love; how feeding your brain love makes you healthy are all presented and surveyed in this mini-love-lesson; more.

The Heart in Your Brain

First, in cherished tones, you hear the words “I love you”, or perhaps you feel a tender loving touch, or maybe you see a precious sweet smile on the face of a beloved one, or it could be any of the 383 other loving behaviors (so far discovered, Swenson) which can activate your sensory systems to help you experience love.  Next, as your nerves are stimulated by a love input they send electrical messages to centers and circuits of your deeper, ancient, non-conscious brain designed for receiving and processing love.

That deeper part of your brain primarily is where your psychological heart resides.  It is where you process love, being loved and loving.  It also is the part of that sends out electrical and chemical messages to other parts of your brain and to many parts of your body activating them to function more healthfully, and generally to beneficially guide you.  Then those messages stimulate your brain to make a variety of neurochemical compounds which in turn help to make you conscious of starting to feel the many, various, good, emotional and physical feelings of love.

All of that happens mostly quite naturally, automatically and also largely non-consciously at first.  But your subconscious knows and is responding.  When it comes to love, it seems that the conscious, aware and thinking mind, to a large extent, gets bypassed at first.  Some have postulated that perhaps nature does not really trust the conscious mind to handle anything as important as love, other than to be aware of feeling it after it is up and running.  Notice, people tend more often to say things like “I realized I love him (or her)”, or “suddenly I just knew I loved (so-and-so)” rather than saying things like “I can tell I love that person a little bit and maybe that love is growing”.  That occasionally does happen.  Perhaps also that is why you can not feel your love for someone all the time but it is there all the time where you can draw on it when it is called for.

You purposely can come to sense love when it exists in you and, thus, know you love someone, but this is just the awareness of love and not the love itself.  Because love neurologically is not an emotion but rather a natural, complicated, internal, deep brain process which you sometimes feel or sense.  It also is a process which can give you a great many different emotions, among which are feeling loving, feeling loved and feeling lovable.

Love and Its Accompanying Emotions

While love happens, you frequently do become consciously aware of the feelings of being loved, and/or loving, or just a sense of love itself.  You also may get a wide range of other, accompanying, positive feelings which the experience of love triggers or sets off in your brain.  When love is being experienced, there can be accompanying positive feelings of tenderness, intimacy, ecstasy, serenity, passion, emotional closeness and connection, compassion, ebullience, preciousness, empathetic care, oceanic awareness and a great many other fantastic feelings.

Identifying love as only an emotion is grossly inaccurate and can lead to mis-judging its emotional richness, nature, power, importance and functional dynamics.  In turn, that can lead to a great many missed opportunities, misunderstandings and relational mistakes concerning love.  Some of those can be quite tragic.  Remember, feeling love is natural but love relating is learned.

Blocked and Anti-Love Interference

The whole love process described above can be blocked, confounded and in essence sabotaged by other things that go on both in your brain and in your life.  For instance, a former love relationship that was too often or too severely painful can cause you to be extra reluctant and cautious about entering a new love involvement.  If you have been trained or subconsciously programmed to be more oriented to one, or more, of the false forms of love you may greatly misinterpret or overlook a current, real love opportunity.

Too much emphasis on sexuality, romance, marriage or strong personal insecurity also can get in the way of healthy, real love development.  Substance addictions, compulsive avarice and status desires, plus simply plain ignorance about love also provides lots of dangers.  These are but some of the many things that can block or interfere with processing love healthfully and doing love-relating successfully.

Love and Your Brain for the More Anatomically Fascinated

You could skip this section if you are not intrigued about knowing some of the brain/body details of love’s psychoneurophysiology and neurochemistry.

There is a lot we don’t know yet and what we do know is like everything else about the brain – complicated.  Nevertheless, here is a little bit of more technical brain knowledge concerning what your brain does with love.  These knowledge bits can be used to lookup much more complete information than is given here.

First of all, the preponderance of research evidence shows love not to be an emotion like it is so often misidentified.  Rather, love, at least in part, is seen as a natural, very healthy, systemic, brain process involving many emotions and a whole lot more than that.  Brain-wise the process of love is more similar to the biological process of turning food into energy or your body’s systems and for keeping you free from infections than it is to being just a simple emotional feeling.  Unlike an emotion, real love is not a temporary, or frequently fleeting feeling.  Rather, once real love is established it likely is going to be with you from then on, and some postulate even after death.  A relationship may end but if there was real love that will remain even though there might be many contravening variables about other aspects of the relationship.

Your psychological heart mostly is in your brain’s limbic system.   Love processing involves a good many of your limbic system’s component parts.  Thought to be included are your insula, anterior cingulate cortex, caudate nucleus and putamen, all of which show heightened activation when you come in contact with someone you feel love with or for.  Lower activation also occurs in the amygdala, posterior cingulate, and the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices in the right hemisphere of your brain.  Those changes in brain activity show love to be at least a twofold process.  One, increases good or positive feelings and the other decreases your negative or bad feelings.  Among those are a lowered sense of fear and a heightened sense of safety.  Changes in the activation rate of those brain parts also mean you become less outer environmentally aware and more internally and emotionally aware as the love process happens.  Worry decreases and as love-induced endorphins and dopamine levels increase so does your all-over sense of happiness and well-being.

Also thought to be probably involved with the love process in your brain are your hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, temporal lobe, orbitofrontal cortex, septal area, corpus callosum, frontal lobe, fornex, mammillary bodies and limbic cortex.  Each of those may have to do with different aspects and factors of the love process.

When referring to a couple, some may say “they have chemistry” that certainly is true.  Love makes a host of neurochemical things happen.  Chemical changes in your brain and body frequently include changes in androgen, testosterone, pheromones, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine, and that is just what researchers have discovered, it seems so far that I know about.  Each of those helps you process different aspects of loves dynamics.  For instance, oxytocin helps you with feeling love connected and bonded with another.  Please note, these are natural, good chemicals that are produced by our bodies when love occurs.  So, those who get lots of love in their lives don’t need similar kinds of pharmaceuticals or street drugs with potential toxic side effects.

From Your Brain to Your Body

The chemicals your brain makes when it is processing love go into your blood and flow through not only your brain but also through the rest of your body.  Everywhere they go they work to have a great variety of beneficial and healthful effects.  It seems that each of the three tiers and 12 major categories of loving behavior [see A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love] may trigger different, healthful benefits.  Some are quite invigorating, energizing and mobilizing for action.  Others are calming, soothing and make for antidepressant serenity.  Quite a few have various kinds of physical healing effects.  Others are more healing in a psychological sense.

Feeling loved from any source can sort of work like food giving you energy, sometimes a great deal of energy.  Feeling serenely loved especially is good for lowering stress and the body’s reactions to stress.  Feeling loving toward others brings on one set of physically healthful effects, while acting loving toward others adds another set of physically healthful, biophysical reactions.

Getting and giving different behaviors that convey love has a positive effect on your immune system’s functioning, can lower your bad cholesterol and can help your T cells fight cancer.  The health benefits go on and on, with research discovering more all the time.

Feeding Your Brain Love Makes You Healthy

Your psychological mind and your psychological heart are in your brain.  The brain is in your body and they are all linked together affecting each other.  Experiencing healthy, real love works like a vital health food and a rather miraculous medicine.  The more you interact with people you love, and are loved by the more your brain produces helpful responses that affect your entire body’s health.  This also seems true for those you like and those you are liked by.  More love equals more health.  That is what more and more research is showing.

The more you are absent from healthy, real love input, the more you are psycho-physically malnourished or even starved and the more likely you are to have a physical and/or psychological health malfunction.  Mixing a lot with people doing false love is like eating non-nourishing, junk food.  Even worse, is to be around and interact with negative, anti-love acting people.  That is akin to eating toxic and poisonous food.  Also bad for your health is a lack of healthy self-love, and self-hate and self negation are even worse.

If at your work, or somewhere else you spend time, involves a lot of contact with non-loving, false love or anti-loving people, you had best counterbalance that with healthy self-love and with others who love well.  Remember, it is very important to “love others as you love yourself”.  It is likely your health depends on it!

One More Thing

How about sharing and talking over this mini-love-lesson with a friend or two and, thus, spread some love knowledge into our rather love ignorant world.
As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How much real healthy love, shown physically and psychologically, have you been feeding your brain lately?

Is Depression Love Starvation?

More and more evidence is stacking up suggesting that much of what we call depression might just be, or be caused by, love malnutrition or love starvation.

Healthy real love, especially of the nurturing supportive type, can be said it to work like a vital energizing food and also like a very healing medicine.  People who receive the major behaviors of well demonstrated love seem to not experience much serious depression.

If they do experience depression they seem to get over it better and faster than others.  We know that severe love loss can result in severe depression for a great many people.  Loss of a major source of love often can lead to marked neurochemical imbalances and other biological problems, sometimes even resulting in death.

Abandoned infants who are physically well taken care of by others but do not receive the actions that demonstrate love suffer from failure to thrive, failure to grow and infantile depression illnesses.  We also know that several mammal species that experiencing loss of a parent, mate or offspring tend to exhibit the same biological and behavioral symptoms as humans do.  This includes observable symptoms of depression like pronounced lassitude, unresponsiveness to pleasure stimuli, sleep disturbance, eating disturbance, etc.

Being ‘loved on’ and veterinarian antidepressants are the preferred treatments for these animals.  In most cases similar treatment works well for humans also. Consequently with this evidence, and many more documented examples, we might conclude that a deficiency of healthy, real, nurturing love may result in one or more types of severe depression.  Receiving the behaviors demonstrating love from people who have the attitudes and feeling states of love seems to offer the cure in many cases of depression.

In the helping professions there is considerable evidence showing the similarity of, or connection between, love loss and depression.  A number of addiction counselors point to the most common cause of relapse in alcoholism and substance addiction as probably being one type of love problem or another.

All long, ongoing love life problems involve depression according to some relational therapists.  It seems that especially mate love, family love, deep friendship and comrade love, plus healthy self-love and spiritual love when lost, absent, or markedly reduced almost inevitably result in the same symptoms as diagnosed depression, according to certain counselors and therapists from various fields. In rehabilitative medicine good, supportive family love is known to be extremely helpful in helping amputees overcome the despondency that usually accompanies limb loss.  Love loss also can be seen as a major precursor to suicidal depression, a frequent trigger to fatal overdoses, and a strong contributing factor to fatal and near fatal accidents.  Depression along with love loss is thought to be a frequent factor in all these human tragedies.

What’s the Cure?

New or regained love often is seen to quickly alleviate depression in many people.  New and regained love are known to enliven and energize people making them more disease resistant, neurochemically more healthy, and prone to live healthier lifestyles.  Doing a good job of receiving nurturing and supportive love from any-and-all sources offering healthy real love can be a primary deterrent to depression.  This is especially true when there has been a loss, or great reduction of love, for a person who has only one major love source.  So, if you loose someone who loves you turn more to others who love you, and work at soaking up their love-filled care and concern.

If you don’t have anyone else go to a love-centered counselor who can help you get started on finding and building a loving network.  And don’t let anything get in the way of that.  Building or connecting with a network of healthfully loving people probably provides some of the best insurance against the depression that comes with love loss.  Those who are strongly participating members of a highly healthfully loving couple relationship, family situation or friendship group fair far better when it comes to handling depression than do those not having such love filled relationships.

Those who learn and practice healthy self-love behaviors are thought to be the people who are most quick to recover from depression linked to love loss.  Those who practice healthy self-love affirmations and behaviors may be the most depression resistant.   People who work together to improve their love behaviors toward each other and toward  themselves, and those who work to develop more spiritual love actions seem to recover from depression at faster rates and more thoroughly.

Cure your love life issues and you just might cure your depression.  That is the hopeful possibility presented here.  But wait, what is meant by ‘love life’?   That’s crucial to understand!  Lots of people think sex when they hear the term ‘love life’, or just hear the word love.  Ask a person how their love life is and you may get a blush, a leer, or an offended look because they think you’re asking about their sex life.  It seems a pity to me that sexuality has usurped, and perhaps somewhat blinded us to the much larger and more important meanings of a term like ‘love life’.

Here your love life has to do how well, how much and how often you give and receive the behaviors, communicate the thoughts, and experience the wide array of physical and emotional feelings which give evidence that healthy real love is occurring.  From that understanding there flows a number of questions you might want to ask yourself.   “How well do I actually do healthy real love?”  “How often do I show my love?”  “How good am I at receiving the demonstrations of love from others?”  “How well do I do at communicating my thoughts of love?  Do I have them?   How frequently?”  “Am I doing healthy self-love sufficiently?”  “Am I good at enjoying the feelings that love can bring?”  There is a lot to this meaning of ‘love life’.

If you are wondering how do we define healthy real love remember a working definition  is given, explained and discussed in this blog’s first entries, but in brief here is our more detailed working definition:
Healthy real love is a powerful, vital, natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved.  Love is further defined by its five major functions: (1) to personally and profoundly connect us, (2) to provide competent balanced safeguarding, (3) to improve us in all healthful ways, (4) to heal us and maximize our recovery from being sick or injured, and (5) to reward our behaviors from and with love via the many joys of love.
Note that in this definition love is not an emotion, nor is it sex, nor is it everything else listed in the blog entry about what love is not.

A very important consideration is that there are false forms of love and they, unfortunately, may act to increase depression, not cure it.

Your love life may contain many types of love, or it may not.  Life partner love, sibling love, parent to child love, child to parent love, higher power love, and a host of others are all to be considered as important in your development of a healthy enriched love life.  Any, or all of those types of love can be important for countering depression and it’s effects.  That means there are a lot of wonderful, healthful, possible ‘antidepressant’ relationships you can’t get from a pharmacy but you can get from real life.  Don’t leave out healthy self-love.  Without love-filled relationships susceptibility to some form of depression appears to be much more likely and common.

It is important to know that some forms of depression may have nothing to do with love-malnutrition or love-starvation.  Some depressive conditions are caused by imbalances in brain chemistry or other neurological problems.  Remember your mind (including your psychological heart and gut) is in your brain.  Whatever affects your brain can very strongly affect your mind, heart (love), and gut (emotions).  Therefore, bad brain chemistry can get you depressed all by itself.

Whenever there is no evidence of  biologically or physically caused depression suspect a love problem.  Ask yourself “How goes your love life?”, which may include healthy self-love, romantic love, life partner love, family love, spiritual love, love of life, love of your life purpose, the healthy mix of love and sex, love of people, etc..  If there are areas that seem empty, confusing, or areas that emotionally hurt when you focus on them then maybe you have a love deficiency that might lead to depression.  You also could have the ‘emotional poisoning’ of a false love to deal with.  Remember, healthy real love works like a vital energizing food and a very curative medicine.  If the love in your life isn’t helping to fight your depression, or seems to be making it worse, it may be a type of false love.  If that seems to be the case a good therapist probably can help.

Now there is another great big important question to ask yourself if you are trying to understand your own depression or trying to understand a loved one’s depression.  The question is “How is your depression trying to help you?”  That’s right – help you!

Consider the proposition that all your parts, systems and the machinations by which our species has been adapting and hopefully improving over millions of years, are all trying to help you.  Therefore, depression, anxiety, fear and all other ‘bad’ feelings are trying to do you a ‘good’ service, just like physical hurt tries to help you.  For example, if the physical pain in your side gets you to the surgeon who removes your abscessed appendix before it kills you, then the hurt saved your life.  All ‘bad’ feelings are ‘good’ in that they are all trying to provide you some kind of assistance.  You might even say they are trying to love you.  Yes,  these emotional warning systems can overdo it, under do it, and mis-do it – like all human systems, but their basic purpose is to aid you.

It’s the hurt you feel when touching a hot stove that gets you to yank your hand away before there is any real damage.  Fear and anxiety get you to be more cautious possibly when you need to, anger gives you more power when you don’t have enough – although it is clumsy power, boredom tells you “that’s enough” of something and it’s time to do something else, and so forth.  They all are there to assist you and even though these emotions are not fun to feel,  it’s a much better idea to work with them than to work against them.

Now let’s take a look at depression, the non-chemically induced kind.  When you have a feeling of being depressed notice what you usually do.  Usually you don’t do much of anything.  You sit around or lay around mostly inactively.  Notice what you think about.  Usually you think about what’s wrong and all ‘downer stuff’ of your life.  That’s what depression wants you to do, to not do much so you’re not distracted from thinking about what’s wrong.  Depression does you the service of getting you to be still long enough that you can focus on the unpleasant things you want to dodge thinking about in your life. Depression gets you to think about those very things.  Depression is the ‘take inventory’ feeling.  Cooperate with your depression and take your personal inventory, and then make a plan to do something about what you’re depressed about.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

If when depressed you take a lot of pills, get drunk or anything else that dodges taking inventory  your depression will be your good friend and probably get worse until you take the inventory, make a plan and start carrying it out.  At least that’s how I’ve seen it work with a lot of people in my practice.  Yes, your depression could overdo it to the point you can’t think straight and, therefore, can’t take a good inventory.  A good therapist can help you with that.  If it were not for depression there would be a lot of things people might never face until it was too late.  Depression has helped millions of people get out of bad marriages, dead-end jobs, lousy families, repressive political regimes and unfulfilling lifestyles.

If it weren’t for depression, and the service it provides, those people might have stayed until their situations totally destroyed them.  The idea is ‘work with your depression’.  Find out what it’s trying to tell you, and make the improvements in your life which you probably have been avoiding out of fear.  At least that is often the case when dealing with purely psychological or “normal” depression. 

Perhaps frequently the improvements you will need to make have something to do with not getting enough of the right kind, or the right amount of healthy real love.  Possibly you’re staying in a loveless relationship out of duty.  Maybe you’re stuck in a meaningless career due to a lack of gumption that a healthy dose of self-love might give you.  You might think you’re trapped in a draining lifestyle because you love your kids, mate, etc..  You may need to fix the source, type or amount of love your getting, add new sources of love, or disentangle yourself from a love life situation more harmful than helpful.

Surprisingly some people discover that depression begins to alleviate the minute they start taking a realistic inventory, even though it hurts to think about the situation they are in.  Others find it doesn’t get better until they are enacting the plan that came from the inventory.  Sometimes when people start working their plan anxiety or fear arises because now they are facing their real issues.  Then they may back off from enacting their plan.  Often psychological or normal depression (which can be experienced as quite intense) gets worse when a person backs away from carrying out their plan for improvement.  That seems like a pretty clear guidance message to keep working the plan.  It also is the healthfully self loving thing to do.  Sometimes we go through life situations where our choice seems to be either to get anxious or to get depressed, take your pick.

With enough healthy self-love usually we pick the ‘anxiety route’ and go do what were afraid to do, but perhaps more cautiously.  That choice changes things for better or for worse, but it least it’s different and usually not depressing.  Often getting out of depression means forcing yourself to cross a sort of emotional desert before you can find new emotionally fertile land to live in.  With enough healthy self-love you will be important enough to yourself to persevere and make it across the ‘depression desert’. Healthfully loving friends and family can provide emotional oasis experiences along the way.

If you or anyone you care about struggles with strong or repeating depressive episodes there are three things to do.  First, check with a physician, possibly a psychiatrist to examine whether or not there may be a physical cause or contributor to your depression.  Second, and sort of simultaneously with doing the first thing, go looking for a good love oriented and hopefully love knowledgeable therapist.  Third, and more or less simultaneously with the other two, take a good, broad and deep look at the many parts of your ‘love life’ searching to see how you are going to improve it.

The good news is that almost everyone who learns to do this really well makes the needed changes and gets a largely new, improved and healthier life and love-life. Frequently, but not always, this alleviates the depression.  Aim to live undepressed and love enriched and you probably will do just that if you are willing to work at it.  I can say this with confidence because I have seen and helped literally hundreds of people do exactly this.

In closing I can say, not all, but much of depression does indeed seem to be, or stem from  love starvation – a lack of healthy real love of one type or another.  So often when a person experiences the powerful, vital, natural process of being highly valued, and when that person experiences someone desiring for, acting for and taking pleasure in their well-being they experience love and get better.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Anti-Love Myth # 1: True Love Means You'll Know What to Do

Synopsis: Our sweet, pretty, horribly destructive, super common, love-ruining myth in example; A group’s help; Care and cure effort; Two answers for why we keep perpetuating the myth; The triggering of useless self attack; Ruining your children’s romantic future; The two brains improvement you can make; and Restaurant behavior & love relating.

With an anguished look Francine moaned, “If I have to tell him what I want that spoils it.  If he truly loves me, he just will know what to do and he’ll do it.  Won’t he?  That’s the way real love works, doesn’t it?”

Upon hearing this the other seven members of Francine’s counseling group all groaned in unison.  My trainee assistant therapist then said, “How has thinking that way been working for you so far, Francine?”  Quizzically she replied, “Maybe not so well, but perhaps I just haven’t found the right guy who really loves me yet.”  Again members of the group groaned.  Cheri, said, “I have an ex who relied on that myth and all it ever did was cause a lot of trouble and fights.  I always was having to guess and usually I guessed wrong.”  Jake spoke up and added, “Yeh, I get so frustrated with my wife never telling me what she really wants.  I really love her but she doesn’t give me a clear message that I can work with.  She expects me to ‘read her mind’ and I never can.  This could lead us to the breaking point if we don’t do something about it.”

I then asked, “Francine, what do you think the word communication means when we say we all have to learn how to really communicate with the ones we love?”  Francine replied, “I don’t know, I never really thought about it.”  I replied, “Could it mean you and your lover have to take a lot of the guesswork out of your relationship?  Maybe it means we all have to tell each other what we secretly hope for, dream about, and directly ask for what we need and want.”  With some energy Francine strongly said, “I think I get it and I’m going to work on that.”  So she did and with good results over time.

Loretta who just had been listening then made this comment, “Without asking for what I wanted, when my husband didn’t say or do just the right, loving thing I thought it meant I had done something wrong, or he was mad at me, or maybe he didn’t care or he was just being cruel.  When what I wanted didn’t come my way I’d feel guilty and try to figure out what I had done wrong and why he was punishing me.  I’m sure I seemed pathetic and whiny.  I see now I was not sending any clear message at all, just hoping he’d magically know or guess how to be nice to me.  When he ‘failed’ to come through for me I would get pouty.  When I acted like that he would get mad at me and I would feel too afraid to even talk to him, let alone tell him what I needed or wanted, so I guess he never really knew.  It never crossed my mind that he had no idea what I wanted — that he actually couldn’t know.  What a mess not asking for what I really wanted made.  It would have been so simple and I think we’d still be together today if I’d known that.”

Brandon then brought up the question “Why do so many people believe that awful myth which says ‘If you love someone you’ll know what to do, and you’ll do it, and it will turn out to be the right thing?  Why do we rely on a false myth that love makes us ‘mind readers’ when it causes a lot of pain and misery, and no doubt a lot of breakups?”

Understanding how many people come to believe this ‘love myth’ which turns out to have such an anti-love effect can help us guard against it.  There are two parts to the thinking about that.  The first part applies to when you are a baby your parents are repeatedly figuring out what you need and want, and give it to you without you asking for it because, as an infant, you can’t.  You may look distressed, or cry or look unhappy, then someone feeds you or changes your diaper or because they love you they make you feel better one way or another.  Therefore, you grow up being conditioned to think that those who love you automatically will know or figure out what you need and give it to you without you having to learn how to identify it, ask for it, or accurately inform anyone about how you feel.

All you have to do is look or sound a little unhappy and those loving people will sweep in and take care of you in a way that satisfies.  When you are a child that works because your wants and needs are mostly simple.  Adulthood is much more complicated and individualistic, so we have to learn to communicate our wants very clearly or we don’t have much of a chance of getting what we need or desire.  The dependence on loved ones being mind readers, therefore, basically is a childish way of operating and it often does enormous damage to adult love relationships.

The second part is that we in the Western world have been conditioned, at least somewhat, by childhood fairy tales.  In the fairy tales Prince and/or Princess Charming always automatically does the right thing which always leads to "happily ever after" without anyone having to really communicate.  Think of Snow White.  She is laying there in her coffin and the prince comes along and automatically does the one correct thing that brings her back to life.  He kisses her and she pops up full of hugs and kisses for him.  How did he know to do that?

It’s inferred that love gave him the immediate, perfect knowledge of what to do.  He didn’t have to research it, consult wise men or white witches, study old scrolls, remember what some wizard once said, or form a committee to study the matter.  He just immediately, automatically knew what to do and did it because that is ‘the magic of love’ according to the story.  To a large extent our romance mythology is built on this kind of understanding of how love is supposed to work.  We keep teaching this destructive myth to the detriment and destruction of many love relationships that otherwise might work out fine.

Think about it.  Notice that this way of operating can work in fairy tales and romance stories because only one brain is involved in scripting all the roles.  In real life you have at least two individual brains thinking individualistically.  For there to be joint, cooperative, successful action those two brains have to communicate with one another.  Only occasionally will both brains think enough in similar fashion for people to have pretty much the same thought simultaneously.  That phenomenon can be enjoyed but not relied upon.  Therefore, mutually communicating your feelings and especially your desires, then jointly working out what to do next is the way to go – if you want frequent cooperative success.

By the way, you might want to give some thought about whether or not you are perpetuating the "love gives magical, automatic knowledge" myth to your children and, thus, perhaps assisting them toward future romantic agonies and maybe failure.

Here’s the dilemma. You either can hold on to the sweet, pretty but false romantic myth that love magically can guide those who love you to take care of you ‘just right’, or you can go to the trouble to learn to clearly communicate your thoughts, feelings and especially your desires.  If you accurately communicate what you want you at least have a chance of getting what you want, of course, there is no guarantee.  Furthermore, if you are a decent listener you actually may come to understand what your beloved really wants or at least realize what questions to ask to find out.  If you hold on to and depend upon the myth – well, you can guess what you’re odds are of getting what you need and want.

Many of my patients have heard my analogy of restaurant behavior and love relating.  If you go to a restaurant and don’t ask for what you want, you are highly unlikely to get it.  The wait-person can’t read your mind.  If instead you say, “I’d like a steak, medium rare, with mushrooms on the side and a baked potato with sour cream and chives, and broccoli also” you have a far better chance of getting more exactly what you want.  Likewise, in a love relationship if you come home tired and worried, and just plop down and hang your head, you might not get the hug and attentive listening that you really want.  All your mate can do is guess what to do and they may guess you want to be left alone.  But if you say, “I’ve really had a rough day and I’m worried about tomorrow.  Will you give me a big hug and listen to me with love for about 5 minutes?  I think that will help us have a much nicer evening together” the chances are much better that your mate will understand what you want and hopefully help you with that.

As always – Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Are you in any way afraid to ask someone you love for what you want, and if so how are you going to get past that?

Startup Love is Never Enough !

Mini-love-lesson  #196

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is about helping people get beyond just having startup love and growing on to having lasting love that can work for a whole lifetime and much more.

What Too Many Couples Say!

“It looks like our honeymoon period is over”.  “It seemed like we were so in love at first but now it’s all fading out”.  “Is our love starting to die?”  “We were so great in the beginning but now we’re just getting to be another unhappy couple like so many of the couples we know”.  These are the all too common kinds of comments a great many couples make after a startup of seeming to be very in love.

But wait!  Research shows there are a whole lot of other couples who rapidly recover from that potentially disastrous slump and others who never experience the “honeymoon is over” thing.  They, in fact, just keep getting better and better.  So, what makes the difference?  Is it luck, fate, the stars, communication, is it that one or both of them are doing something the others are not, or what?

Real Answers That Help

For some couples the answer is they didn’t have real love in the first place but rather a form of false love.  It could be limerence or some other false love which means they need to learn about real love and its differences from false love and then what to do about it.  For many other couples they had real and sufficiently healthy love at the start, but there were two very important things about love they didn’t know or didn’t know in a deep and solid enough way.
The Block:   Part 1 of the Primary Answer
The truth is it might not only be about what they do not know.  It might also be about a falsehood so many couples have been taught or subconsciously programmed to believe.  This falsehood blocks them from learning or deeply realizing a preeminent and profoundly needed understanding of an unwanted truth.  It is an understanding of what it really takes to succeed at real love-relating over time.  So often the blocking false teaching has to be given up before what really works is able to be learned at the required gut and heart levels.  That turns out to be harder than it might sound because the teaching usually has gotten rooted deeply into our subconscious belief system, and we so want to believe it, and reject whatever contradicts it.  Therefore, let’s deal with that blocking falsehood first.
A Ruinous Doctrine of Romantic Love
A thrice divorced client in great anguish asked me a question I have actually heard put many ways, many times from my patients and clients.  “Once I fall in love with the right person, isn’t that love going to be enough for the rest of my life?  So why do I have to do anything more about love?”  I replied, “If you really have deep love for someone and find out you can get better and better at loving them, won’t you want to do that – get better and better at love?  Isn’t that what true love would have you do?  If you have children, wouldn’t you work to be better and better at loving them?”  The client thought for a moment and then with a look of enlightenment said, “Help me doc, I have so much to unlearn and even more to learn.”
Don’t you or didn’t you want to believe that One day you meet your one-and-only, true love and you both automatically fall in love with each other.  Then by the nature and magic of love you both also automatically live happily ever after.  And that is all you have to do about love.  Succinctly put, that pretty much is the core of the romantic doctrine.
Do you know that it is quite possible that some version of this guiding romance dogma is alive in your very own subconscious mind?  Worse, it could be subtly steering you toward the likelihood of your own romantic ruin?  That can be so, even if your conscious mind sees big problems with it as a guiding, operational principle for your love life.  The research shows that this doctrine, indeed, may work for those who do not get to have an ongoing, real love relationship over time, like Romeo and Juliet who’s lives ended in their teens, and possibly for precious few others.
Do you ever wonder why in so many of the great romance stories, both new and old, the couples do not get to be together for even as much as a year before something wipes one or both of them out or separates them forever?  Possibly it is because if they were a longer lasting couple, the authors of those love stories know the couple would start having problems and would have to learn the real secrets of lasting love or break up.

The Block:   Part Two of the Primary Answer
The Much Avoided Real Secret of Lasting Love
Have you ever run into the idea that families are people farms and what makes them successful is how well the couple starting the farm knows how to work their farm with love.  Please notice the word work and how different that is from the romantic doctrine’s words automatic and magic.
Successful, lasting love-relating takes skillful work.  Ovid, Rome’s great love poet, taught this in the year 1 AD (or CE).  It takes the work of learning how to do love work.  It takes the work of learning loving teamwork; it takes the never-ending work of learning how to give out and take in healthy, real love ever better; it takes the work of growing healthy, real love; it often takes the work of practicing healing love; and it takes the work of learning how to individually love each of the individuals involved in your love network, including yourself.  It also takes the work of learning how to keep fresh or repeatedly refresh, renew and re-enliven your love relating.  The good news is with improvement oriented practice everyone can learn how to do skillful love work.  And more good news, probably it also will be immensely rewarding to you and those you love.

What Startup Love Is Good For

Startup love is only good for starting up.  It seems to be Mother Nature’s way of helping couples get started but after that you have to learn, work and practice a whole lot more than Mom Nature provides.  If you are going to get to have strong, lasting and improving love, you will have to work at it.  Lasting love is complicated, challenging, confusing and lasting love requires continuing commitment and continuing improvement-focused-behavior, in spite of victories and defeats, advances and setbacks.  Becoming complacent with victory or too easily giving up with defeats, is not a path to a strong, growing and lasting love.

Startup love between parents and newborn infants works much the same.  After the early, natural, initial, love bonding of a parent with a child, comes all sorts of work on how to love that particular child in the particular ways they need for their growth and development  (At this site’s mini-love-lessons see Parenting Series: Paul’s Points on Love for Parents).  Those parents who go to the trouble to learn about the major ways of nurturing a child with the appropriate behaviors of love have been showed to do much better than those who do not learn that knowledge or practice it.

Startup love in friendships, with comrades, new family members, with pets and others can work the same as with couples and infants but instead often may depend on slow growth, love development.  In any case, startup love is best seen as something to be added to, by deliberate work at doing better and better love skills development.

If Your Love Is Crashing, Sinking, Fading, Drifting, Slumping or Plateau-ing???

If you sense or suspect a love relationship of yours is doing one of the above, start by thinking about your ways of love-relating.  How are you relating with love and how can you improve relating with love to and with your loved ones?  To learn how to do better, you can do a host of different things.  You can read all the mini-love-lessons listed in the Subject and Title indexes of this site which seem to apply or grab your attention.  You can study the eight major ways or categories of behavior that social psychology research has discovered helps love get delivered from one person to another (Start with the mini-love-lesson titled Behaviors That Give Love – the Basic Core Four). You then can read more about those in our book Recovering Love.

You can work with St. Paul’s list of what love is, what it gets us to do and be in the New Testament.  You can work at talking your beloved’s love language by studying Chapman’ s The Five Love Languages.  You can see if you can find a real-love knowledgeable couples or family therapist, counselor, personal coach, cleric, mentor, guru, or other guide and work with them as an individual, or better yet, as a couple or as a family.  You can look for and go to personal growth and relationship classes, workshops, retreats and also online courses having to do with healthy, real love development.  You can read everything you can get your hands on about growing healthy, real love – which you are already doing by reading this.

In other words, you can start, by yourself or even better with a loved one, doing the work of learning the how to’s of better love relating.  I again want you to think of a farm.  If the people running the farm just rely on nature to produce the crops they soon would go back to living as primitive hunter/gatherers and sometimes starving.  This, in fact, is the same with love.  In regard to love, many live at the hunter/gatherer, primitive people level, unaware that they can do far better.

If you learn, practice and keep working to improve your work of farming love, you very likely will do very well.  If you rely only on startup love thinking it is so great it will last you a lifetime and, therefore, you do not have to work at it – well, good luck, because you probably are going to need it.

Help spread love knowledge, tell somebody about this site!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How do you feel about hearing that you could have inside you a misleading, destructive, non-conscious program effecting how you go about love?

Does “Feeling in Love” Come from Real or False Love?

Mini-Love-Lesson #179
FREE – Over 200 Mini-Love-Lessons
Touching the Lives of Thousands  In over 190 Countries-Worldwide!

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson presents ‘feeling in love’ and the lost wisdom about it; the harm that comes of relying on it; the questions of if it doesn’t come from real love where does it come from; what to do with “feeling in love”; does it always fade; what the brain does about “feeling in love” and “ being in love”; another big danger; then ends with the good news about feeling in love. (Who do you know that might benefit from mentioning mini-love-lesson?  You might mention it to them.)

Lost Wisdom about Feeling in Love

Not so long ago it was widely recognized that because you felt wonderfully “in love” it did not mean for certain you were in a state of real love.  Many instead knew it could be infatuation, or a crush or maybe just lust.  Others thought it could be that you were temporarily bewitched or merely enamored, enraptured, besotted, hart struck or, my favorite, twitterpatted.  In any case it was common wisdom that these words meant that what you were feeling might not last and, not for sure, were real love.

This was rather helpful because it assisted people in being patient and waiting long enough to see if ‘feeling in love’ would last and was real.  Two world wars seem to be what changed all that.  ‘falling’ in love quickly replaced long engagements and got much more popular.  So did quickly having sex and quickly getting married before the war or one of its horrid ancillaries killed one of you.  That seems to be the way it often works in desperate times.  The trouble with that is it set the new norm of believing that ‘feeling in love’ was all it took to mean it was the real thing.  The wisdom of “wait-and-see” was lost.

The Harm Done by Relying Only On ‘Feeling in Love’

Listen to Dolores, “I knew I loved my husband but was no longer ‘in love’ with him.  Then I met and fell head over heels in love with Chuck, had an affair with him, divorced my husband, devastated my kids, had arguments with my family and friends and generally messed up everything.  But at the time I didn’t care because I knew I was totally and passionately ‘in love’ and that was all that really mattered.  Two years later Chuck and I were done.  My ‘feeling in love’ just turned off.  So did Chuck’s and he quickly found another woman.

“With professional help, I now know what I felt for Chuck was a false form of love called “Limerence”.  I tried to go back to my husband where I now know real love existed but it was too late.  He had a new lady in his life who was busy making him and my kids happier than I had.  If only someone had taught me that ‘feeling in love’ could not be relied on.  Somewhere I had learned just the opposite that ‘feeling in love’ meant it was the real thing, but it wasn’t.”

Dolores’s story sadly is the story of countless others.  Real love lost, traumatized children, needless divorces, and much worse – these are the tragedies of relying too greatly only on ‘feeling in love’.  And this is all because so many people now believe merely ‘feeling in love’, even if intensely, means it must be the real thing (Check out the Problems and Pain section of the Subject Index.).

If It’s Not the Real Thing, What Is It?

‘Feeling in love’ can lead to the real thing but more often it does not.  ‘Feeling in love’ is frequently the result of one or another form of false love.  The false love called Limerence that Dolores identified lasts 2 to 4 years on average.  The ‘I’ phase of an IFD pattern romance seems to have a super strong ‘feeling in love’ component which also almost guarantees profound disappointment, demoralization and depression in the ‘D’ phase.  Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome and Thrill and Threat Bonding frequently appear to sort of do the same thing. (For more complete descriptions and cures for these false love syndromes check out the e-book, Real Love False Love.

What to Do with ‘Feeling in Love’

When ‘feeling in love’, enjoy it fully!  Know it may lead to the real thing but no matter how good and strong the ‘feeling in love’ is, don’t rely on it as proof of real love.  It is not enough.  Learn the other signs of what is real and what is false and don’t be in a rush.  Remember, real love is patient. (See “How Love Works – 7 Basics” and “Falling Out of Love – or Was It False Love” mini-love-lessons at this site).

Does ‘Feeling in Love’ Always Fade?

So many people report that after a certain amount of time the passion, the romance, the sexuality and the intense ‘feeling in love’ experiences fades away.  They also often report those are replaced by a calmer, steadier, often deeper and more profound sense of love.  Many do not seem to know that if they purposely think and do the right set of actions they can bring back the ‘feeling in love’ experiences.  However, those feelings probably will not be constant or seemingly automatic as they once were.

In truth, you would not want them to be intensely with you all the time.  This is because there would be little room or time left for all those other wonderful feelings of ongoing, deep and profound love.  Also there is the occasional, often high sense of spiritual love that can come later in always growing, love relationships.  It sort of is like this.  You would not want a meal of your most favorite food to be your only food, day after day, after day, after day forever.  Love can be given and received in far more wonderful ways than just the passionate, romantic way.  But remember, you can bring that back too from time to time with the right love skills (See “Learning About Love – Together”, “The Three 3’s of Love” and “Is Love Ignorance the Problem?” mini-love-lessons at this site).

The Brain and Both ‘Feeling in Love’ and Being in Love

We now are beginning to have evidence about how the brain processes love.  There is evidence that suggests our brains process real love and false love differently.  This evidence also suggests that real love is very healthy for the whole body and false love usually is not or, even worse, it often is toxic.  However, we don’t have enough evidence to say these ideas are proven.  The thing we call ‘feeling in love’ by itself seems to operate like a precursor to lasting love which may or may not then follow.
Real love seems to activate certain regions of the brain, alter our brain chemistry and perhaps cause important bio-electrical changes.  Some think every cell in our body has at least a little to do with processing love and certainly is effected by love.

All these processes can go on whether you are consciously aware and feel them or not.  It is important to know that feeling something is not the thing itself.  We may sometimes feel and sometimes not feel our breathing or certain digestive processes but they are there whether we feel them or not.  Likewise, the evidence suggests real and lasting love is there all the time but we only feel it from time to time.  We, however, can develop the skill to purposefully tap into it, or become consciously aware of it whenever we wish.

Feeling in love often is quite strong and gets a lot of our attention for a while, maybe even a long while, then it changes.  It changes either into just going away or being something you temporarily can re-create from time to time in real love relationships, if people in the love relationship have the skill and know-how to do that.

Another Big Danger of ‘Feeling in Love’

‘Feeling in love’ in the brain operates in ways quite similar to certain kinds of serious drug addiction.  The evidence suggests healthy, real love doesn’t do that.  Withdrawal from ‘feeling in love’ is, in neurochemistry terms, rather similar to withdrawing from an opiate addiction.  ‘Feeling in love’ and several forms of false love sometimes trigger the brain chemistry of obsessive-compulsive disorders.  Indeed, much of the ‘feeling in love’ experiences associated with false forms of love sometimes involves destructive, obsessive-compulsive and addiction-prone behavior.  At least that is what the evidence is pointing to.

Healthy, lasting, real love, as we currently understand it, does not lead to those reactions and disorders.  This is one of the reasons that people in addiction recovery are advised to stay away from ‘falling in love’ and ‘feeling in love’ until their recovery is well established.  Otherwise relapse and its horrors become much more likely (See Recovering Love: Codependency to CoRecovery).

The Good News About ‘Feeling in Love’

Feeling in love can feel great, be part of a great life adventure, get you to do a lot of things you will be glad to have done that you never would have gotten into otherwise, can involve incredibly great sex, help you discover a lot about yourself you otherwise might never know, uninhibitedly experience another person, have incredibly intense emotions – both high and low and, best of all, just possibly might lead you into the wonders of healthy, lasting and fulfilling, real love.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Like a good chef, are you occasionally or even frequently learning new recipes for creating fresh, ‘feeling in love’ experiences?