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Showing posts with label problems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label problems. Show all posts

Breakup Survival, Then - Love & Life Thriving

Mini-Love-Lesson  #226


Synopsis: Fresh approaches and powerful ways to survive a major breakup and go on to a full, thriving love life are introduced, along with some practical how-to’s and go-to’s.


From Hell to Heaven

Breakups and their aftermath can be so incredibly painful, tragic, draining and disastrous but then, if you survive, such a helpful and good thing!  Handled well, breakups can lead to love and life thriving better than ever before.  There are three reasons I know this.  The first reason is I survived more than my fair share of agonized breakups.  The first one literally nearly killed me.  After that, they were less and less bad as I moved up to better and better, and finally to my now 40+ years with Kathleen and being the best loved guy you will ever meet (see “Why Love Problems Hurt so Bad”).

The second reason I know you can go from relationship hell to heaven is that I have assisted several hundreds of people to survive and then thrive after breakups, divorces and other love loss situations, plus I have taught and supervised a fair number of other relational counselors and therapists to know how to do the same.  That is part of the good news.  There, however, is bad news.

It is a sad truth that not everyone survives a breakup even with good, breakup, recovery help.  Breakups precede quite a few suicides, no small number of murders along with a much larger number of often injurious, unsuccessful attempts at each.  Falling into or relapsing into addictions of one type or another, starting to have serious health problems, getting in trouble with the law, losing one’s job, dropping out of school and literally dying of a heart attack also are much more likely to occur in the aftermath of a love relationship breakup.

You do not have to do any of those things.  The third reason tells us why.  It has to do with what research tells us.  Breakup recovery is getting better and better as we learn more about what breakup survival and recovery takes.  That research tells us most people do survive breakups.  This appears to be true for both real love and false love patterns of romantic relating.  It often is tough going at first and it can be quite dangerous for both mental and physical health.  But the research shows that even with severely agonizing breakups, if you get through the first 12 weeks of post-breakup suffering, you are very likely to get mostly okay enough in 20 weeks.  Then with more good therapeutic work, you can get to where you are living and loving happily within a year or two of even the severest breakup.

These time periods can be shortened.  I once was part of a in-house, psychiatric hospital, pilot, research effort investigating patient recovery from serious suicide attempts after romantic breakups.  This involved even patients suffering from severe IFD (see “False, Forms of Love: The Devastating IFD Syndrome”) and Limerance  (see “False Forms of Love: Limerence and Its Alluring Lies”) -- false love syndromes which were thought to be especially difficult to recovery from.  We found that with a healthy love, and self-love treatment focus, our less severe outpatients, as well as our more severe hospitalized (at first) patients, substantially recovered  in about six weeks.  They then all became quite glad they had not suicided.  At a sister facility, somewhat similar patients receiving treatment for only depression required 12 to 30 weeks to approximate the same level of recovery.

First Survive

In the aftermath of a severe breakup, the first thing to do is just stay alive.  In about 12 to 16 weeks you will be very likely be glad you did.  You probably can shorten that time estimate by quite a bit by engaging in certain therapeutic actions.

How to survive?  Well, first know that you may have to lay around and then thrash around for a while in all sorts of terrible feeling emotions.  For a time, it is kind of like suffering a prolonged hangover with a bad, full body sunburn, while being repeatedly water boarded and bitten by a vicious pit bull.  Later there often is rage which can sort of help with depression.  Catharsis (getting it out of your system) can help so long as you do not harm anyone or anything important including yourself.  Using a punching bag, chopping wood, stomping around cussing the cosmos, breaking up cheap stuff, etc. all are ways to get some needed exercise and emotion releasing relief.  My favorite is to go outside and for 20 minutes throw ice cubes at a brick wall or at a chalk outline on the driveway of whoever you want to hate for a while.  Ice shatters nicely and cleans itself up.  Know that too much inactivity is not your friend but a lot of sleep may be for a while.

At some point, you have to start forcing yourself out into the world briefly doing ordinary stuff.  Then lengthen the time doing that.  It will not feel good at first but rather kind of dead like.  Then there will come maybe only a 10 second bit of mildly positive emotion where you may grin or even smile.  Keep going and 10 second events will stretch to 30 seconds and maybe even contain some laughter.  Eventually you will get to feel positive for 10 minutes and then, at long last, 10 hours or more.  Downtimes will likely get shorter and shorter, and further and further apart but when they happen you may be pretty far down for a bit.  Uptimes will get longer, and higher and higher in an erratic pattern.  You can help that along by listening to upbeat music, going to see funny or exciting movies and doing all activities that distract you and that are not dangerous or downers emotionally.  Being around people and pets who care about you, and then forcing yourself to briefly start doing new things and meeting new people, all slowly will make your recovery a reality.  Avoiding doing these things will just make it all take longer (see “Heartbreak Mending and the Deep, Multi-Love Remedy”).  Of course, everyone is different so just use this as a guide to an average recovery but one to aim for.

Eventually, you will get to new romance if you want to.  New romance is dangerous but usually not as much as the old romance.  That also is true for new and past sex partner involvement.  I usually recommend working at a new “romance light – playing the field” approach at first.  To do that, work toward including at least two, maybe three, no more than five mild, romantic involvements.  Be open and honest with them all about the existence of the others.  Then weed out the ones who will not or can not handle sharing you.  Suspect they probably would turn out to be insufficiently self loving, be too possessive and too insecure.  In this way, you let the best ones rise from the pack and you do not let yourself settle for less, while also going more slowly, safely and constructively forward.

Get Busy but Not Frantic

Diving into work, school, projects, voluntary efforts or anything helpful to others, productive and highly distracting is part of the cure for many.  If you compulsively think often and hurtfully about your ex, the past and what went wrong, consider doing it this way.  Suspect that a part of your subconscious is trying to tell you that you have more to learn from that expired relationship than you have so far.  So, plan and schedule an hour or so to concentrate on that every day for a while.  During that time, do concentrated study, especially focusing on ideas of what to do new, better and different in a next relationship.  Also look at your other relationships going back to the ones you had when you are a child.  Look for patterns.  Study to see if your most recent romantic involvements show a pattern of each one being better than the last.  If so, that is a very good sign.  If they all are about the same or getting worse, radical change may be in order and a good love knowledgeable therapist can help.

Plan the ending time for that concentrated study and plan what you are going to definitely do right afterwards.  Keep notes or a journal.  Consider pretending to talk to your broken heart as if it was another person and ask it questions.  Then pretend to be your broken heart giving you the answers which you can make up even if they’re silly.  Very likely, some of them will be surprisingly fresh and spot on.  Gamble on the idea that your subconscious can tell you good answers your conscious does not yet know.  When the hour ends, get up and actively go do more of your regular or new life.  Get and stay busy enough to be distracted from thinking about your old life and relationship.  Gamble on the idea that your subconscious will let you alone after you have learned enough from the old relationship.

On to Life and Love Thriving

At some point along your path of surviving, you also can start toward thriving.  Thriving means doing really well and living and loving enriched, fulfilled and in profoundly satisfying ways that include lots of healthy, real love.  Remember, a lot of others have suffered through the same sort of things you are going through and then they have gone on to thriving so you probably can do this too.  There is a lot of wisdom in the idea that if you can survive you can thrive.  Gamble on that idea.

Grow Your Use of Love Sources

With healthy self-love you can be your own source of healing, strength and even joyous love.  Decide you definitely are important enough to yourself to learn and practice lots of healthy self-love (see “Self-Love and Its Five Healthy Functions” and “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”).  Gamble on the idea that the better you love yourself the better others will also.  Spiritual love also has been known to do wonders for people of all faiths, and even those of no faith who attempt to tap into it as an unknown source or one they do not believe in but are willing to experiment with. Link “Spirituality and Love Great and Grand”

Of course, love from okay others is highly desirable.  I often have gotten good results by suggesting to those who are alone, isolated and lonely, to start with a loving pet.  Then go around new people (see “A Dozen Kinds of Love to Have in Your Life”).

If you do not have okay others in your life, friends, family and the like, gamble on the idea there are okay others searching for you right now.  Your job is to make it easy for them to find you and you to find them.  Yes, you could get hurt or hurt again but with lots of healthy self-love, pet love, maybe some new friend love, plus powerful new love knowledge you likely will not hurt nearly as much, as long, or as deep as before (see “Living Well via Loving Well”).

Keep carefully adventuring forward in love and love relationships as you grow your love skills, and great and good things can happen.  Remember – Do only old actions, you’ll get only old results.  Do not much, and probably get not much.

To Break All Ties or Not?

Love breakups, especially those involving false love syndromes, distort nature in ways that are similar to substance addictions.  This happens neurochemically in your brain.  Every time you re-encounter an addictive substance, or trigger, you are in danger of restarting a brain-made addiction process.  That can lead you back into a bad relationship or just cause you a lot of fresh hurt.  Safest is to not have anything to do with the ex lover for at least two years.  That is not at all possible in lots of life situations like if you work together or share children.  Try practicing a few coping tricks to help you get through times of temptation and re-triggered suffering.  Here’s one.

Think of 3 to 5 of the worst experiences you ever had with your ex.  Give each of those experiences a movie or book type title, and write those titles on a card you carry with you.  Before each encounter with your ex, read the titles.  With each title, ask yourself do you want to re-live another version of that experience again?  Then after that encounter, reread each title, emphatically choosing not to put yourself through that again.

Afterward, do a really good job of loving yourself and, if possible, letting a special, dear other person or persons do the same with you.  Pre-arrange for that.  Then celebrate your escape.

Thriving usually happens as you learn and develop your love skills.  So, how are your skills for loving life, yourself, your spiritual source, others, a super special other and the joy of living a fulfilled life.  For thriving, learn about and develop each of those skill-sets further.

Positivity Feeds Thriving

The results are in.  Realistic positivity works better than anything else.  Realistic positivity means (1.) With a spirited approach, planning and working to maximize the benefits, joys and other positives of any endeavor or situation while (2.)  Taking in to account and planning how to’s for converting or surmounting the likely trials, tribulations, torments and other negatives of any endeavor or situation and (3.) With some adaptability, not surrendering, giving up or giving in easily.  The old scout law had a phrase “and defeat does not down him”.  Taken to heart, that phrase has made the difference between victory and defeat for many an old scout, including this one.  It can for you too.

Positivity is not to be confused with being Pollyanna.  The Pollyanna approach tends to ignore the negatives while positivity aims to embrace and convert or surmount them.

The newer field of positive psychology and, with it, the newer profession of Life Coaching are adding much to the older approaches of focusing mostly on either psychopathology or mere normalcy.  With positivity, you can aim to go above normal in life and love.  So, let me recommend the book Positivity by Dr. Barbara L Fredrickson who heads up the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology (PEP) laboratory at Chapel Hill’s University of North Carolina.

Are You Growing Your Lovability?

This question has two meanings and we mean both of them.  In the first meaning, Lovability works like magnetism, it attracts people to you.  To be well loved, become more lovable.  That was the Roman poet Ovid’s advice 2000 years ago.  Assertively lovable people get more love.  The assertive part comes from their strong, healthy self-love and the lovable part from their strong, healthy and well practiced love skills. Link “Becoming Well Loved and More Loved – Three Main Ways”  This leads to the second meaning.

Lovability also means your ability to love.  The more you do to learn and practice your ability to give, get, and receive healthy, real love the more you are likely to receive, get and give the same.

For all this and more, I recommend you read the book Lovability by Dr. Robert Holden, director of the love education effort known as The Lovability Program.

Going Further

For going further with all this, I suggest you consider, if you have not already, subscribing to automatically getting our totally free, mini-love-lessons every week and then, of course, studying them and applying everything you can to your life.  You also might mention this site to others, talk over some of these ideas with them and, thus, help spread some much-needed, useful knowledge about love to our love-hungry world.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable question:  If you hope that someone will come along and wonderfully love you into a new and better life, could it be that that someone best might be - you?

Anti-Self-Love Thinking and How to Defeat It

Mini-Love-Lesson #224

                                 

Synopsis: After a short self-exam and a bit of explanation, this mini-love-lesson presents 4 major things to do about the fact that a great many people are programmed to think negatively about themselves, and thus, harm their own lives and the lives they effect.


Take the Anti-Self-Love Thinking Test

Could it be that your head is programmed to think too negatively about yourself?  Could such subconscious programming/conditioning be automatically sabotaging you, causing self-defeat, holding you back, subtly messing up your life, blocking your chances for love, happiness and success plus working against your mental and physical health?  That is what happens to so many.

To find out see what answers pop up in your head to the following 12 simple questions.
Your first impression answers are probably best.

1. Are a good many of your thoughts about yourself critical, negative and/or disapproving?
2. Do you often think about your shortcomings and inadequacies?
3. Does what is wrong with you occupy your thoughts more than what is right about you?
4. Do you compare yourself to others a lot and find yourself coming out on the short end of that comparison?
5. Do you frequently worry about what others think and say about you and suspect it is not very positive?
6. When you accomplish something do you usually find things that are wrong with it causing you to feel less good about what you have done?
7. Do you put yourself down a lot for mistakes, blunders and less-than-perfect performance?
8. Do you suspect your friends, acquaintances and/or coworkers secretly look down on you?
9. Do you believe being critical and hard on yourself helps you improve and is the only way you have a chance at becoming successful or even adequate?
10. Do you suspect that if you like, love or approve of yourself you will be guilty of pridefulness, becoming egotistical, arrogant and no one will like you?
11. Do you sometimes suspect that you are not truly good enough to really deserve much praise, admiration or accolades?
12. Do you suspect or believe yourself to be unworthy of love and/or are unlovable?

Interpreting Your Results

Well, if you answered any of those questions in the affirmative, it is rather likely that you have been, at least somewhat, subconsciously programmed for self-defeat, becoming drained and de-powered, having higher anxiety, depression, limited success at best, as well as for living unfulfilled and far less happy than you could be.  The more questions or parts of questions you answered yes to, the more probable this interpretation could apply to you.

Now, it is important to note that you also have been programmed by nature to be positive about yourself because nature made you into an astounding creature with many positive potentials.  You also may be non-consciously programmed by those who loved you to be at least somewhat self-positive and in opposition to the negative programs.  Those opposite, positive programs probably are at war with the anti-you, negative programs in your head.  Part of your healthy, self-love job is to join forces with every, accurate, positive program and help strengthen them.

Nature programs us to be healthy and that includes our mental and emotional health.  The scientific evidence points to natural, healthy, real self-love being part of that program for being healthy.  The evidence also shows that good, healthy self-love does not lead to egotism, arrogance, selfishness, sloth, etc. (link “Self-Love the Enemy of Egotism”).  In fact, healthy self-love mostly leads to the opposite of all those bad things even though lots of traditional teaching says otherwise.  Frequently, it is the family, and sometimes even more the culture or subculture, we grow up in that teaches that self-love and positivity about the self is bad and will lead you to social rejection and relational ruin.

Join with the Positive

Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to consciously and purposefully join with your natural drive for health and well-being and become strong and more effectively loving to others by growing your healthy self-love. (Link “Unselfish Self-Love”)  Part of that is working against and combating your anti-self-love training and habits for thinking negatively about yourself.

If you are strongly programmed to be negative to yourself and about yourself, you are programmed for harming your physical and mental health.  That is what anti-self love thinking does to you.  It causes your brain to make neurochemicals that help bring on stress and stress-related illnesses, anxiety, depression, fatigue, cognitive inefficiency, immune system dysfunction and a host of other maladies.

Your job is to stop all that and do the opposite for your health’s sake and the sake of those whose lives you effect.  You see, when you are infected with toxic anti-self-love you tend to be bad for others, or at least not as good as you could be.

A Little Understanding Can Help

A little understanding of how programming works can help you reprogram for positive and healthy, self-love thinking.
A part of our brain/mind works pretty much like a computer.  It gets programmed to automatically give us certain thoughts which are triggered, or clicked on, by certain internal and external events and situations.  What is different is those brain/mind, programs also automatically trigger various downer emotions that come with the automatic, negative thoughts.  Many of those programs got into our subconscious from the early experiences we had with our parents, our family, other caregivers and local acquaintances.  Probably most of those people thought they were doing the right thing, or a good thing, for us but they may have been wrong, or only partially right.  Later, our programming experiences came from our exemplary models, playmates and peers, as well by as repetitious messages from various electronic devices.  Some, maybe even a lot, of that may have been healthy, positive and useful, at least for a while.  At the same time, some, maybe even a lot, may have been quite destructive.  The destructive parts, unless you discover and change them, negatively can influence you throughout life.  So, to be more fully healthy, discover these programs and work to delete them.   

Along with that work, is the work of replacement.  You must work to replace the negativity programs with realistic, accurate positives that are good for you and truthfully about you.  You have lots of positives but you may not know it yet.  However, first comes starting to counter the negative, thinking and feeling programs of anti-self-love and those that promote self-negation.

Using the Okayness Approach

One way to think about this is to say just about everything that happens to you can give you an okay message about yourself, or a not okay message about yourself.  If the you are not okay messages are stronger and more numerous than the you are okay messages, and if they get into your head, you are in for trouble, a lot of bad feelings about yourself and probably about life itself.  However, if you can work to de-power and delete the you are not okay, inner messages, you can start heading toward your natural birthright of okayness, sense of well-being and healthy love, including self-love.  Here are four ways you can begin to do that.

Four simple Tools for Defeating Anti-Self-Love Thinking & Self Negation, Inner Programming


1. Talkback
Whenever you hear an inner, negative thought about yourself, talkback!  You might want to emphatically say something like “You’re just an old, negative program in my head and I’m not going to let you make me feel bad about myself anymore, no matter what you say!  I’m a lot more than only just my human shortcomings and tomorrow I’m going to be even a bit better.  You don’t get to bring me down and control my feelings anymore.  I choose to use my power to listen to what you say to determine if it has any use.  But I refuse to feel bad because whatever is not so good about me is only a smaller, sub-part of the total, amazing me.”  The more emotion you put into talking back at the negative inner message the better.  Remember, motion changes emotion so stomping around, shaking a fist, etc. will help your brain make the necessary neurological alterations for improvement.

I have seen this talkback technique work even with people who have serious mental illnesses and hear voices telling themselves very horrible things.  Usually the voices become weaker and go away as talking back is practiced.  With enough strong emoting and repetition, you likely can make it work too.

2. Question the Provenance
Ask, Who says, Why and Where did that come from?  Who programmed me to think that way, what is it for, does it do me any good today and, if so, how much good, or do I just want to toss it because it is out-of-date and more harmful to me than beneficial.

If your inner critic says something like “you’re stupid” or any other putdown term, question its origin and veracity.  Who told you you were stupid, or whatever, and what did they get out of doing that.  Just because there possibly is some truth in the negative message, does not mean you should give it a lot of your power.  For instance, we are all stupid about some things sometimes -- so what!  We also sometimes are brilliant, and much more important than brilliance is the fact we can love.

3. Do conversion thinking
If a self-negating thought appears, ask “Is there any way I can make a positive use of this thought?”  If there is, do so and feel good about having made that conversion.  If not, tell your inner critic to give you more useful things to work with, and to quit with this message.  Example: If you got an inner message like “You’re a lousy lover”, you might convert it into “I think I’ll start learning some more about how to be an even better lover”.  Then thank your inner critic for helping you get to doing some improvement thinking.  Staying stuck with the lousy lover constipation will not help.

4. Do self-affirmational self-love countering
Prepare a list of what is good about you.  Using that list, prepare a series of good, positive messages from you - to you.  When the negative, anti-self-love messages occur bringing on bad feelings about yourself, confront and counter them emotively with the positive messages from your list.  Use body postures, head movements and gestures of strength, pride and being victorious while doing so.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Most of the bad things we say to ourselves about ourselves have a strong, habit component.  Often they got in our heads by being repeated at us over and over.  That may have caused us to say them over and over to ourselves continuing the toxic conditioning or programming effect.  This means it probably is going to take you saying countering positives over, and over, and over to yourself.  The more vigorously you do this the better and sooner it works.  Dare to love and value yourself enough that you do the practice it takes.  There is lots more you can learn about deleting the negatives in your head and replacing them with positives but these four points provide a pretty good start.

Another Item.  Might you do well to talk over these ideas with someone else?  If you do, please mention our mini-love-lesson site and help spread the idea of purposefully learning more about the ways of love that work.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Love Question:  If we want others to think well of us, won’t it be good for us to do the same thing?

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



Can Love Overcome Incompatibility?

Synopsis: We start with worst-case incompatibility getting unstuck; then go on to compatibility choices; the better other choice; some how-to’s; deal breakers; and the great importance of experimenting.


A ‘Worst-case’

Tabitha, with tears running down her cheeks, wailed to her lover, Jamail, “We’ve got to face it!  We love each other but we are just two different.  We can never make it as a couple”.  Jamail looking very distressed pleaded, “We should try anyway.  Are we not taught that love conquers all”?

Tabitha responded, “You’re deep into your religion and I am an agnostic.  You are a capitalist and I am a socialist.  You want sweet and tender lovemaking and I want rough and tough passion.  You want to live in different countries and move around a lot and I want to put down roots and stay in one place.  You want to make a lot of money and retire early and just play.  I want a lifetime of doing good to others and giving back to my community.  You want rice with everything and I am allergic to it.  You want a passel of children and I’m not sure I even want one.  How in the world can you think we could ever be compatible enough to succeed?”

Jamail, with a strong, serious look replied  “I think we could each give up some things for each other, compromise on other things and just try hard not to fight about the rest.  I’m ready to sacrifice because I love you so much, and I know it’ll be hard but I bet we can do it if we try hard enough.  Do you love me enough to do that?”  Tabitha with a sad, soft demeanor replied, “I do love you more than enough to try and I think we could make it work for a while, but if we sacrifice, later we will grow resentful and depressed because we would be denying our true selves and I don’t think that can ever work”.

Jamail retorted, “Even if that’s true, we still try and if it doesn’t work we would know that we had done what we could.  Unless we try will never know for sure. I would hate to think that if we had only tried we might’ve made it”  Tabitha said, “I guess you’re right but I don’t want to spend my life trying what you suggest.  I have seen to many others do that and they were too incompatible to make it work.  I refuse to live like them.”  Jamail then beseeched, “Give it a year, six months, even three?  Tabitha with a hint of a smile responded, “Six months with the option to renew for six more – okay?”
Jamail quickly answered, “OK, and look at what we’ve just done.

With love and talk we have arrived at a compatible, next step from our mutual incompatible positions.  Maybe that’s a good omen.”  Tabitha laughed and said, “I don’t believe in omens but you’re right, and okay we can give it a try so long as we keep showing each other love during the hard times we are going to have.  I know if we don’t mix love into the times we get upset with each other, we will never make it.”  Jamail then said, “I know I have to do a lot of work to do in that area, and that is the first place we have to grow more compatibility in to make the rest of it work.  So, when I don’t come across loving enough, just remind me, and if it’s okay with you, I’ll do the same with you.”  Tabitha added, “Sometimes we both will need timeouts, so we have to not pester each other or get more upset with each other’s timeouts like we have before.”  “Yes, and see we’re doing it again; we’re working it out, replied Jamail.  Hugs and kisses followed.

Compatibility’s Choices

Most people seem to think that compatibility is something a couple just has or they just don’t have.  One finds it or can’t find it, or just hopes it will magically show up one day because they are so in love.  Our love mythology leads so many people to think couple compatibility is all a matter of luck or fate.  So, when they don’t find it they just break up or resign themselves to their miserable incompatibility destiny.

One problem with that view is that it takes a fair amount of time to figure out whether or not you are sufficiently compatible or not.  Lots of couples caught in a False Love Syndrome, slowly or after a few years of trying, sometimes suddenly raise into their awareness how incompatible they really are.  Several False Love Syndromes seem to be particularly good at blinding people from seeing their incompatibility.  Many such couples go into denial and repeatedly struggle on, until they finally do give up.  Some of those who give up, stay in the relationship trying to just live with and tolerate the incompatibility.  Several forms of False Love Syndrome lend themselves to overtly tolerating the incompatible difference while secretly or subconsciously looking for a new love that is real, and hoping to switch to a new, more compatible, better person.  That leads to affairs, divorce, and breakups.  It sometimes does lead to a much more compatible, real, love relationship that is far better, and other times not.

A lot of people do just find someone who is sufficiently compatible and that helps tremendously.  Nevertheless, such couples later do discover difficult differences and have to work at growing their compatibility.  Lots of couples, after the so-called honeymoon period, start discovering hidden differences and incompatibilities, some of which can severely sabotage or totally torpedo a couple’s relationship unless they start doing the work of growing their compatibility.  The research shows that no matter how compatible a couple starts out, they will experience compatibility struggles.

The Better Other Choice

Here is that really good news. More and more evidence points to what ‘successful couples actually do’ is not ‘find’ but instead ‘grow’ their compatibility.  Sure it helps to start out with at least a little compatibility, but even without much there is a way.  With enough healthy, real love, the right knowledge, plus dedicated and democratic, earnest teamwork, many, even severe incompatibility problems often are able to be overcome.  You see, Tabitha and Jamail are now 10 years together and most of those very happily together years.

See if you can wrap your head around the concept of lovingly and democratically growing compatible.  This actually is what most highly compatible couples have done.  Some of them started out with extreme incompatibility.  Of course, the more incompatible a couple is the more work it probably is going to take.  It is not magic, luck or fate.  It is work, or more exactly ‘teamwork’ that makes couples grow increasingly compatible.

Some How-To’s for Growing Compatibility

To start growing compatibility, you first might want to work on your ‘Toleration Love’. Tolerational love is one of the eight major groups of behavior by which social psychologists have shown that love gets given or delivered to another.  (You can read what you likely need to know about ‘Tolerational Love’ in Recovering Love.  There are several mini-love-lessons at this site which also will help.)  While you are growing compatibility, toleration love can get you through the disappointments, aggravations, irritations and frustrations of your incompatibilities.  One exception has to do with seriously unhealthy, destructive behavior.  There, it is important that your toleration not be enabling whatever is destructive.

A democratic approach and mindset is pretty much required.  If you have a “my way or the highway”, autocratic approach or mindset, growing compatibility does not stand much of a chance.  Two people in a relationship have to be willing to try each other’s ways, hear and consider each other’s thoughts no matter what they are, and have good emotional intercourse about everything felt (See the mini-love-lesson on Emotional Intercourse).

Constantly mixing in expressions of love in words and acts as you deal with whatever seems incompatible, and doing a good job of ‘Receptional Love’ at the same time makes the work of growing compatibility easier and more likely to succeed.  Be sure you do that in the way the one you love likes to be love (You might want to consult “The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman for that).

Work to avoid ‘love destroyers’ and sabotage systems.  Especially important to avoid is diminishing your demonstrations of love in frequency or strength when dealing with incompatibility issues.  Also super important is to avoid demeaning your loved one because of their differences from you.  Guilt trips, putdowns, blame, indignation, making fun of, making derogatory comments, moralizing at your beloved, etc. are in no way helpful for growing compatibility.  Sometimes ‘making light of’ and having some fun with issues can be helpful if sufficiently, mutually enjoyed.  Slowing or stopping the demonstration of love is likely to be very detrimental.

Deal Breakers

Zea broke it off with Max a few days after their fifth get-together when he lit up a cigarette and explained he really liked smoking and had for years.  She knew she could not live with a smoker, having gone through the excruciating smoking-related cancer deaths of both her parents.  Her healthy, self-love would not permit it or risk it.  It had been far too painful.  Understand that, Zea was not being judgmental or condemning Max for smoking.  Zea was just realizing and ‘owning’ what was true about herself and acting on that knowledge.  She did explain it to Max and he tried to quit smoking, but gave up the effort after a little while, so Max and Zea were no longer ‘an item’.
This is pretty much the best way ‘deal breakers’ work.

No one needs to be unloving about it.  The truth is, some incompatibilities for some people are too big or too strong.  I like to suggest that couples who think this may be true for them in some area or another, first experiment with seeing if they can find a compromise, or a synthesis, or any other way to deal with whatever the incompatibility is all about.  Couples’ counseling can be a big help here.

The Importance of Experimenting

To earnestly ‘try on for size’ what your beloved wants you to do, to truly see if you can learn to enjoy what your beloved enjoys, to work to find ways to appreciate or at least tolerate the people your beloved values, to learn to look through your beloved’s eyes even though your beloved’s understandings are so opposite and different than your own, to clearly and frequently ask for what you want and to genuinely try to weave it together with what your beloved wants; all that and much more is involved in experimenting toward growing compatibility.  Of course, it must all be done with lots of well expressed love.

It is amazing how often experimenting leads people to genuinely like and be enriched by that which they did not like or want as it first was presented by their beloved.  It’s also amazing how often a synthesis with a beloved’s ways develops a new and third better way for both.  Experimenting and working to find the value in the differences a couple brings to each other is a grand way of growing compatibility.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
What do you think of this statement, “You get to have it all your way, or you get to have love”?


Love Affairs: Bad?, Good? and Otherwise

Will a Love Affair be Good or Bad for You?  The answer may depend on whether you usually make most things go well for you and those you love, or not.

It also may depend on your subconscious ‘self-defeating’ or ‘self winning’ ways of going about life.  Another thing it definitely could depend on concerns what and how you think about love affairs.

Some people’s thinking about love affairs is well informed, intelligent, rational and balanced.  Is yours?  There also are those whose thinking is na├»ve, gullible, poorly informed and vulnerable.  Is that you?  A good many tend to think romantically and sexually about love affairs, but not much past that.  Could that be you?  A large number think judgmentally and with considerable negativity, while others are caught between thinking hopefully and fearfully.  Does any of that apply to you?  There, of course, are those in both committed and uncommitted relationships who secretly think about love affairs with joyful anticipation, delicious desire, clever premeditation and scheming intrigue.  Describing you perhaps? 

Then we have those who just get a big, happy kick out of thinking, talking and maybe even doing love affairs.  And there are those who think about love affairs with sad regret and those who think about them with happy reminiscence.  So, how do you think when you think of love affairs?  If you’re going to participate in a love affair it’s probably going to make you think a whole lot about it and to consider what your love affair is all about.  To think healthfully and successfully about love affairs let’s look at things that you might need to be aware of and consider carefully.

Singles with high love desires, and singles with breaking hearts, couples who can’t stop cheating on each other, and couples joyously reunited and working at co-recovery, the wear and tear on some relationships from multiple affairs, affairs that bring both agony and ecstasy, secret pride and public shame, terrifying dilemma and soaring freedom, crushing defeat and exhilarating victory, all these and far more are encompassed in the simple term ‘love affair’.

Love affair issues are agonized over and struggled with in my counseling practice almost every week.  That consistently has been true for years and years.  This means I have worked with thousands of people in all sorts of different love, sex and other types of affairs.  As a health professional my primary goal is always to get to a healthful resolution for all concerned.  I take the side of health against pathology, dysfunction and destructiveness.  It’s sometimes pretty tricky but I don’t take the side of ‘him’ or ‘her’, of someone else, or of saving the relationship or ending it.

I am neither for or against any of those positions unless it coincides with what is healthful for all concerned.  Since illicit or secret affairs are the ones usually presenting the most difficulty we will deal mostly here with those.  Later we will deal with the ‘yeas’ and ‘nays’ involved in open affairs, uncommitted single’s affairs and other kinds of affairs.  Those too can involve great dangers and difficulties along with marvelously strengthening joys, and enriching experiences and can have extraordinarily happy outcomes.

I will brag:  In my work with affairs we usually get to the ultimate goal of a healthy resolution for all concerned.  However, getting there is, almost always, quite arduous and quite complicated.  Commonly in an illicit or secret affair there are two people in a couple relationship, one or more lovers, plus sometimes children and family, some close friends and maybe others that may be strongly affected by what happens in the love affair.  Without help seriously un-healthful outcomes unfortunately are quite common in the complicated tangle of illicit affair situations.

In the worst-case scenarios suicide, murder, substance addictions, child, spouse and lover neglect and abuse, severe physical and mental harm, career ruination, economic destitution, family dissolution and a host of other truly traumatic consequences can, and do occur in many affair situations.  More commonly, repeated experiences of severe emotional hurt, serious family, social and occupational dysfunction, along with high stress and relational chaos regularly occur.  Yes, elicit love affairs sometimes can be frighteningly destructive!  If you are contemplating an illicit affair, or already are in one, don’t undervalue or be in denial about how badly it could go for you or for others who are important to you.

Then there’s the other side which doesn’t get talked about as much.  There can be, and sometimes are, very positive experiences and outcomes involved in a large number of love affairs.  Even very problem-filled affairs sometimes produce good results.  There is an extraordinary strengthening that develops and emerges in some affair protagonists.  It is not unusual that coming out of a ‘bad’ affair people take new, and much better life directions (which is a good result).  That’s especially true when they experience the help of a good counselor or therapist.

Destructive affairs sometimes result in people beneficially overhauling their life approach and their life situation which they would not have done otherwise.  Losing a spouse or love mate to an outside lover has been known to help a neglectful mate grow a much greater understanding of how to love and treat their next major love choice.  No small number of couples report that without the affair they coped with they would never have grown as good a love relationship as they have now.  Therefore, even bad affairs can have good results although usually the process, for a time, is quite awful.

Also not talked about much are the people who have excellent, positive affair results, sometimes right from the start.  Some testimonials I have heard: “My affair made me know I was worth something”.  “If it wasn’t for my affair I never would have learned what love is and how to do it well”.  “My super secret affairs led me into all sorts of exciting adventures and the best times I have ever had, so I would not trade for them for anything”. “I had a series of affairs which finally got me to my new and far better marriage and the love I always wanted”.  “Without cheating my life just would have been too damned dull.”  “It was having an affair that saved my life because before that I was on the way to putting a bullet in my head or drinking myself to death”.  “I have to be really thankful for my affair.  I think it was God sent because, crazy as it sounds, it’s what helped my marriage and made it work.  It wasn’t until my husband caught me with my lover that we started to get real with each other, and that has made all the difference in the world.  We were okay before but we’re really good together now”. 

These real-life words give evidence that sometimes having an illicit affair turns out to be positive for some people.

Here are some types of love affair results that many people don’t know what to think of:  Marcia related she was very happy about the results of her affair.  “It was my goal to have a child by a very intelligent, highly talented man and my affair got me exactly what I wanted, plus years of ongoing contact with a remarkably interesting man.  Besides that, his wife also has been involved and quite preciously captivating”.  Dennis stated, “It was my affair with an exceptionally wise, older, married woman that gave me the courage to go after the kind of woman I really wanted but was afraid I could never be enough for.  I am profoundly indebted to her”.

Serena remarked, “My several affairs are what sustained me through the long illness of my slowly dying husband.  Those wonderful men enabled me to lovingly care for him and make his life as good as possible right through to the end”.  Here too then is evidence that affairs, commonly disapproved of, can do good in certain circumstances, although there are many who would want to deny and refute that truth.

The group you perhaps hear the least about are the ones who say things like this: “I tried having an affair and it was so so”.  “My affairs were never really very bad or good, they just were.”  “Having an affair was just something to try on for size, which I did, and that’s about all I can say about it”.  “For me affairs and illicit sex were just a hobby.  After I tried that for a while I got a boat”.  It would seem that the truth of affairs is that quite a few people have disastrous results, others have really fine results and still others have mediocre results – much like most everything else in life.

If you are contemplating or feel prone to having a ‘cheating’ type illicit affair contemplate this important truth: To accomplish an illicit love affair you likely will engage in deceit, deception and perhaps a life saturated with falsehood.  All that along with the overt and covert lying that you probably will have to do is likely to be destructive to you no matter what else happens.  If it’s a true love affair perhaps the love you give and receive in the affair will be worth the price you have to pay.  Perhaps there also will be other benefits that at least help to counterbalance the difficulties of an illicit love affair.  Then again, perhaps not.

As you review the possible occurrences and outcomes of an illicit love affair let me suggest you ask yourself a few questions.  First, are you strong enough to survive the possible and probable destructive effects involved in an illicit love affair?  You see, illicit love affairs frequently turn out to be very draining.  Second, do the likely benefits outweigh the likely deficits, difficulties and potential disasters involved?  Third, who may be harmed, and how much might they be harmed?  Fourth, what exactly are the good things you are looking for in an affair and are they really good enough to go after by way of a secretive love affair?  Fifth, is there a way you could go after these things more openly and honestly?  Last, are you willing to seek the help of a nonjudgmental counselor or therapist so that your actions have a better chance of going in a healthful direction?

If you are already engaged in an illicit, secret affair is it one where real love is being given and received?  If you’re not sure about this study the “Definition of Love series” found on this site.  Do you need help in figuring out what to do with this affair?  If so, who will you go to for help?  Be careful here because some possible helpers may have a vested interest in one outcome or another, rather than helping you get to a healthful way of going about things.

If you go about the affair carefully and with healthy, real love for yourself and others things may go well for all concerned.  This is especially true if you and perhaps the others involved get some good coaching/counseling to help you through the hard spots.  Keep watching this site for more information about love, sex and other affair issues soon to appear.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love success question
Toward yourself and the others involved how compassionate, understanding and resilient can you be concerning a love affair situation that might come your way?


Previous Comments:
  1. January 4th, 2018 at 23:26 |

    Men are just not so straight species. They think they are having some fun time.and it will be for some time but they forget they are involving themselves with another woman who is not going to let go of that good time very easy….. Although men have a lot of maturity interms of business, money making, policies what not. They lack the discipline to manage their emotions. All I can say is they just start but finishing is not in their control.

Gender Diversity & Romantic - Heart-mate Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #195

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is designed it to help people get clear on the confounding romantic and heart-mate love, lifestyles & sexual issues that stress and distress people who have gender diversity issues and those who seek to understand and assist them.


Love and Gender

We all are built to give and get love.  Also we all are built having gender and with that comes our sexuality.  Our gender factors influence our romantic and heart-mate love thinking, love feelings and love behavior.  Science increasingly shows much of our gender and love processes are natural phenomena largely occurring in our brains but also affecting our bodies in a great variety of ways.  Love, gender and sexuality all turn out to be a lot more diverse and varied than we used to think.  We should not be surprised about that because nature can be said to love variation and diversity.  That probably is because of its great survival value for our species.  By the way, science shows all this to be true not only for humans but for a lot of different kinds of higher order species.

In regard to gender, there is a lot more going on than being just strictly male or strictly female.  Some people are born physically both.  Some are understood to be born both genders in their brains but not in their bodies.  Others have the brain of one gender and the body of another.  There seem to be others who go back and forth, and still others who spend part of their life as one gender but then natural forces within them emerge bringing about a change to another gender.  After that, natures variations start to get complicated and hard to describe.

Now, let’s add in sexuality.  Did you know that some people are sexually attracted to both men and women but may only want to do heart type or spousal love with one of those.  Then there are those who romantically love and want to live married to both.  Are you aware that occasionally a head injury can result in a change of sexual preference.  On and on variety goes.

The truth is if you can think of a love, lifestyle or sexual relationship variation, it is a good bet that somewhere on our planet there are people doing it.  Not only that, but all that diversity may be backed by naturally occurring, normal, healthy variations in the brain motivating the variant sexual/love/lifestyle (different than usual) behavior.

Gender Is Not Binary but Your Society/Culture May Be

You do not really choose your gender.  Via nature, your gender chooses you.  For some people that can seem like a quite befuddling choice.  For others it is a very threatening and highly stressful, confused choice.  Usually that is because they live in a culture or society that pigeon holes all people into strictly either male or female.  For the bisexual, homosexual, transsexual, and anything-else-sexual, this can be a really big, life warping and even life-threatening problem.  In more loving societies and in those becoming so, diversity in love, lifestyle or gender variation, life can be easier, safer, healthier and more naturally actualized.

Becoming Aware of the Questions Gender Diversity Can Bring

Who or what are you attracted to and who is attracted to you?  Is it different from who you want to love and be loved by?  Is that different from, or in opposition to what you have been taught?  The questions can become ever more difficult.  For instance: If you are a boy who lusts for girls but wants to become a girl, does that make the inner you a lesbian?  If it does, is that a moral issue or a religious issue or maybe even a non-issue?  If your questions are confused how can you ever discover what is true or real for you and about you?  How can you become okay in a culture that says it is not okay to be you?  How can you give and get  love healthfully in society that will punish you for deviation from its norms of how people should and should not love?

These are but some of the stressor questions complicating the romantic, heart-mate and spousal love lives of those having a gender diversity.  We suggest this means the gender diverse really can use lots of good, healthy, friendship love, family love and help with their own healthful self-love development.

Gender Conflicted Romantic and Heart-mate Love

For those who are unresolved about their gender identity, there often is painful and confusing difficulty concerning what to do and what not to do romantically.  That blends into what to do and not do socially, sexually and maritally.  Romance and spouse type love for some seems like a lonely impossibility and hopeless or at best problem-filled future.  Some give up trying, others decide to settle for whatever and whoever comes along, while still others pretend or work desperately to become a normal heterosexual.  That can lead to becoming trapped by one version or another of a false love syndrome, a fake marriage or having a conflicted life of infidelity subject to it’s ruinous ravages stemming from deception and betrayal.

Daring to reveal one’s true, sexual proclivities to a romantic interest, can present an agonizing life labyrinth to attempt navigating through.  Just figuring out who you are attracted to and who can be attracted to you is hard enough for anyone having any gender confusion.  Nevertheless, when romantic or heart-mate love connections do occur and are sufficiently reciprocated, real and marvelous love can occur and grow.

Another problem is what to do with one’s sexuality.  Gender variant people often have gender variant sexual desires.  This clearly and easily is seen in the intensely bisexual person who naturally wants to have sex with both males and females and even perhaps with others who are less easily gender identified.  That, by the way, might qualify them for being a bit omni-sexual.

Sexual experimenting, toleration for variance, alternate lifestyles like group marriages, communal living & other unique relationship arrangements can come into play in these situations.  Running afoul of cultural norms based in heterosexuality is common in these situations and, of course, adds to the stressors involved.

Around the world and throughout history, one can find successful examples and models of how these gender variations have been successfully handled and where healthy, real love has prevailed.  Sadly, there also are lots of examples where it has not.  Openness to heart-mate love of many variations is growing, especially in urban centers around the world.  Push back regressive reactions against these relational variations also are growing fueled by prejudice, judgmentalism, condemnation and irrational fear.  The worldwide trend, however, seems to be a bit more pro-love than anti-love for those of varying gender orientations.

A Synthesized Solution

Who do you feel attracted to?  Notice that this question is not what gender do you feel attracted to.  That too is an okay question but I suggest not the primary question.  If sometimes you are attracted to a kind, generous, funny, sexy, particular person who happens to be a man, and other times you are attracted to the same traits in a female, it’s the traits that may count more than the gender.  In this kind of case, it may be your job to carefully explore both attractions.  But do not confuse attraction with love.  We get attracted for all sorts of different reasons that are not love.

Who do you get interested in?  What do they do that interests you?  How are they intriguing you?  There too, your job is to explore and experiment into that interest.  Something inside you has said, notice that person.  It probably has not said just, notice that gender.  Go explore and adventure carefully with that person no matter what their gender or gender variation is.  Let the relationship grow into whatever it grows into.  It may be a friendship love, a romantic love or even something without a name.

Who stirs you up and gets you puzzled as to what you are feeling?  Go explore and adventure around, with & toward them – carefully.  See who you become with them and what they have to offer.  That is your job assignment coming from deep, inner forces that point you toward particular people you might just end up loving and being loved by.

The love you grow with a person may turn out to be a whole lot more important than their gender or gender variation.  However, the gender factor is indeed an important one.  It may have a lot to do with how your life and future lifestyle goes.

Now, if it totally does not feel right for you to romantically get involved with someone of a particular gender or gender variation, then probably – do not do it.  Do, however, question whether those are really your own, deep, inner, real feelings or are they what you have been taught to think you should feel.

Whoever you love is whoever you love, irrespective of their psychobiological gender.  Whether or not you can do heart-mate or spousal love with them is a question to face later after your relationship has had time to grow and perhaps become one of healthy, real heart-mate love or something else.
One word of caution.  Usually it is wiser to be the chooser than the chosen.  Of course, when it gets to be truly mutual that is even better.

Help spread love knowledge – tell someone about this site and its many mini-love-lessons, okay?

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: Can you have some kind of love for any and every kind of gendered person you really get to know,

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?