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Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts

Monogamy for Love & Monogamy for Sex

Synopsis: Two real-life, sex and love faithfulness dilemmas starts this mini-love-lesson; followed by the question ‘why monogamy’; ends with concepts and information about how monogamy dilemmas get resolved; and more.

Faithfulness in One and Not the Other

“I keep having this struggle,” Lacey said with an anguished look.

She continued, “I sincerely love my husband and I certainly don’t want to do anything to mess up our really good marriage.  However, every so often I have to have sex with somebody new and different.  My sex life with my husband is good and I know he deeply loves me, and not only that, but he always turns me on.  I wouldn’t change any of that for the world.  But then I get really attracted to other guys and sometimes gals, and I end up in bed with them.

“Sometimes I go back to the same person if we develop a real friendship, but usually the sex part slowly fades out and then we’re just friends, even good friends.  I don’t want my husband to find out because he would be really hurt and I never want to hurt him.  I’m still in love with him and think I always will be.  Outside of sex, he definitely is the one and only for me.  I mean as a life partner he is definitely the one I want to spend my whole life with.

“I struggle and keep trying to become sexually faithful and sometimes I manage it for maybe six months.  In my work I get to go and come as I please, and make my own schedule, and meet a lot of interesting people.  Some of those I bed and have a really erotic, passionate, exciting and very different experiences with.  It’s different from what happens with my husband.  With him it’s more about love with sex.  With the others it’s just about sex but it is usually great sex.  I guess my heart is monogamous but my body is not.  What’s wrong with me?  What am I to do?  This has been going on this way for years.”

It was rather the opposite for Lowell.  He came into counseling saying, “I’m in love with two women and I can’t break it off with either one.  Both of them say I’ve got to choose one of them and let go of the other.  I’ve tried that with each of them, more than once, and it never lasts.  One way or another we just get back into the same three-way thing.  It’s not a sex thing.  Sex with both of them is good.  A few times all three of us tried sex together but neither of them wanted to keep doing that.  I am really in love with both of them.  I am told I can’t really love two women at the same time so it must not be real, but I think it is.

“After all, I love my two parents, and my two children by a former marriage, and both my brother and my sister, so why can’t I love two women at the same time?  They both have tried breaking up with me but then they both have come back, and we start up again.  What am I to do?  I hate to see both of them hurt.  I tried breaking up with both of them at the same time so I wouldn’t hurt them anymore, but that didn’t work for any of us either.  Is there something wrong with me because I can’t choose?  I so don’t want to keep hurting them”.

Why Monogamy?

For ages in many cultures marriage was about the four P’s: procreation, progeny, privilege and property.  Custom ruled at first, and later religion, and then the law.  At certain times in history, love in marriage was even considered embarrassingly wrong and sinful.  In many places and times, monogamy was something married women had to do but not husbands.  That was to ensure progeny or that the man’s official offspring was actually the man’s offspring and not some other man’s.

Love had nothing to do with it.  It was with the rise of the democracies that monogamous love, sex and marriage began to get intertwined and eventually melded together in the minds of many.  Since then more and more, the idea of having a special, monogamous, life partner for love and sex and maybe for offspring has been becoming the desirable way to do things.

Around the world and throughout history that has and is, by no means, the only way.  Nor has monogamy proven to be all that successful a way.  There are those that argue that especially ‘sexual monogamy’ is anti-natural, and attempting it causes more personal and societal harm than health.  There also is evidence that the ‘monogamy of the heart’ tends to work better than the monogamy of the genitals.  In this day and age, many, perhaps most, people have to deal with the issues of monogamy or non-monogamy of sex and/or of love.

The Two Monogamies, Apart and Together

Of course, the two monogamies  do get very mixed up together and are seen as inseparable in a fair number of people’s minds.  Making love is not just having sex but is doing both love and sex simultaneously and, therefore, is one thing as many see it.  It is hard, or nearly impossible, for some to separate the two.  Therefore, to them monogamy means both marital loving and having sex with just each other.  However, it seems for a great many people, they may be monogamous in their spouse-type love but not in their sexuality.

For a large group of others, they come to have romantic or spousal love for more than one person but they remain sexually monogamous with their official spouse.  They have ‘affairs of the heart’ but not of the body.  In those social spheres, countries and cultures where love and sex is supposed to be only with a spouse, this presents many heart wrenching conflicts and dilemmas.  Those dilemmas frequently destroy relationships and even lives.

These dilemmas and their destructive outcomes don’t happen all that much or all that severely everywhere.  Monogamy related dilemmas, to a fair extent, have been resolve in a number of social spheres, cultures and countries.  Historically, polygamy, polyandry and other ‘poly’ approaches have prevailed and worked rather well for at least a sizable percentage of people.

Some cultures or sub-cultures developed a system where a person has a main life partner who is dearly loved but there are also other lovers and even in some places ‘sub-spouses’, or people who also are loved and in which sex relationships occur in an ongoing manner without there being much conflict about it.  Of course, in the monogamy-emphasizing societies, people are not raised to think or operate that way, and so most live either in faithful love and sexual monogamy or in deceit, deception, angst, ongoing conflict and guilt.  A small percentage go ‘outside the cultural box’ and make alternate life styles like polyamour and swinging succeed.

How Do Monogamy Versus Non-Monogamy Conflicts Get Resolved?

For a great many people in the monogamy stressing cultures, resolution comes at great cost.  Heart ache, agony, anxiety, depression, anger and a host of other bad feelings occur, along with breakups, divorces and fractured families.  The final resolution also frequently comes with very emotionally wounded survivors of all that.  For others they go through the same agonies but come out stronger and wiser.  Sometimes those people are much more able to discern how to create and grow real love while avoiding the traps of false love.  Still others just repeat the same, unsuccessful pattern again and again.  For those who go to a good counselor or therapist, there can be repair and improvement along with quicker resolution.

Let’s look at what Lacey and Lowell managed to do for the resolution of their monogamy dilemmas.  Lacey got interested in going back to college which she had never finished.  In doing so, she got really interested in a new career, got fascinated with advanced learning, finished her degree, went on for a Masters and entered her new field.  As she accomplished these achievements she did have sex with several men and a woman but her interest in doing so faded.

Her interest in living honestly and doing love with self-disclosure grew, and with it, a desire to risk her husband knowing a more complete truth about her.  Still, she did not want to hurt him so she remained quiet about her sexual involvement with others.  Then on a trip to Sweden where they met a number of people who practiced what might be called ‘open marriage’ he got a little drunk and let it be known that he knew about her affairs or at least some of them.

He also told her he had known for some time that she had to have others occasionally, and if that is what it took for her to be happy, and their marriage to continue being good, he decided long ago to accept it.  He did wish that she had trusted him enough to open up and tell him about the affairs ages ago.  He then confessed that he had a few involvements with other women of his own but had not wanted to hurt her or risk disrupting their marriage by telling her about them, because those involvements were quite unimportant.  In reaction to that knowledge, Lacey experienced a great, tumultuous, bundle of mixed feelings.

Relief mixed with jealousy, irony mingled with anger, confusion was contradicted by a long desired, beginning sense of closure.  Most surprising was a greater sense of intimate closeness with her husband.  All these feelings went up and down, and around and around like a merry-go-round in her heart and gut.  That was followed by long, emotion-filled talks, lots of hugging, crying, laughter and tenderness, finally ending with a fine sense of mutual serenity.

They both made the agreement with one another that if they got a strong desire to have sex with anybody else, they would talk with each other first and figure it out, sort of on a case-by-case basis.  Most importantly they would not hide anything from each other anymore.  Then together they got very involved as volunteers teaching English to disadvantaged immigrants.  The whole thing about sex with others became a sort of ‘been there done that’ and ‘might do it again, but probably not’ resolved dilemma.

Lowell came to a very different solution.  In counseling, he came to view his problem as one of ‘giving his power away’ to both women.  Like a good ‘male hero’ is supposed to do, he was automatically thinking he had to do what his two ‘damsels in distress’ wanted him to do to alleviate their pain.  He came to the point of view that ‘the difficulty’ actually belonged to ‘those who owned the hurt’.  He could be empathetic, sympathetic and even more loving to them both, but it would be acting against himself to quit either relationship.

Since the women had the pain, they owned the pain and, therefore, owned the responsibility of doing something about their own hurt and dissatisfaction.  He saw that with this approach, one or perhaps both of them eventually might go away, or they might just go on in this three-way relationship for, heaven only knows, how long.  However, as he now thought he didn’t have to sacrifice himself and what he wanted, to solve what was essentially their problem, not his; his resolution was to do nothing different.

Kindly and tenderly he talked all this over with each of them.  Both women got extremely upset, furious, threatening, crying and emotionally thrashed about hysterically, at first.  Then when that didn’t change anything, they both calmed down and they all went on as before since they both were getting some good things from the relationships.  Eventually one of the women became involved with another man, and that led to some very sad goodbyes.  Lowell and the remaining lady then went on lovingly together.

Lacey and Lowell found resolutions, perhaps different than you might want to find if you were in their place.  What I have seen in dealing with a great many of these kinds of situations, is that each individual, or couple, or threesome, with heartfelt love and careful work can find their own, unique, healthy solution.  Those solutions vary greatly but they are solutions.  Being open to multiple outcome possibilities helps tremendously.  Avoiding ‘my way, or no way’ approaches, being pressured into cookie-cutter solutions, making anybody the enemy, doing guilt trips, blaming and judgmental-ism, getting lost in feeling negative, or inadequate, inferior or at fault, clears the way for constructive and sometimes surprisingly creative solutions.

As always – Go and Grow with Love!

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Which is more important to you, monogamous love or monogamous sex, or perhaps non-monogamy for either or both?

Sex Fears Mastered with Love

Synopsis:  This mini-love-lesson first presents the harm that sex fears do to individuals and couples; and then goes on to review the many faces of sexual fears both, conscious and subconscious; talks about things not to do; and much more.

The Harm Sex Fears Do

Samuel and Sarah are breaking up mostly because of their fears related to sex.  Sarah dreads even thinking or talking about some new sexual activities Samuel wants them to experiment with.  Samuel secretly fears he is not sexually ‘man enough’ or sexy enough to keep turning Sarah on, so he wants to attempt some new, exciting, erotic things he has been hearing about.  Both Sarah and Samuel are too afraid to openly and honestly talk with each other about their sex fears.  Consequently, on the increasingly rare times when they try to make love, Sarah tightens up with fear.  That in turn makes attempting intercourse painful for Sarah.

Sensing Sarah’s reluctance, Samuel has begun to fear that he will say or do something that will turn Sarah off to him more, which he thinks seems to be happening.  This fearful worry is making him have trouble with maintaining erections.  Recently Samuel has started having premature ejaculation problems.  Because of those problems Samuel and Sarah are beginning to emotionally withdraw from one another.  They also have started to argue about all sorts of small things that really do not matter to either of them.  Therefore, they both are becoming increasingly sex and love malnourished in their relationship with each other.  Both have begun to secretly fantasize about how things could be better with someone new and different.

In desperation Samuel and Sarah went to a counselor.  It turned out the counselor did not know much about handling love relationship or sex problems; as that had not been a part of the counselor’s training.  However, the counselor was able to refer them on to a well qualified couple’s therapist who had also been trained in sex therapy.  Over a fairly short period of time this therapist artfully guided them to tap into their love for each other which gave them the courage to carefully, kindly and compassionately say the things they feared to say, in loving ways, and to accept the things they heard from one another, and later to do the erotic things they feared to do together before.  In the process Samuel and Sarah learned to develop and use a variety of new love skills, applying them to overcoming fear and greatly expanding their sex life together.

Unfortunately there are thousands and thousands of couples and individuals whose relationships are defeated, divided and destroyed because they do not know how to ‘use their love to master their fears’.  There are thousands more whose love and sex lives continue on but are hindered, hampered and harmed because they don’t know how to ‘use their love to master their fears related to sexuality’.

The Many Faces of Sex Fear

“I’m so afraid my wife doesn’t love me because I found her reading women’s porn and masturbating”.  “I’m scared he just wants me for sex”.  “I mask it well, but I’m really threatened by the idea that I may be sexually inadequate and inferior”.  “Since I got out of the hospital I am totally terrified to try sex again”.  “I guess I am a coward but I can’t bring myself to ask my husband to do the erotic things I want him to do to me and I’m just dying to try”.  “I get really shaky when I start thinking about my sexual performance not being as good as what my spouse experienced with others”.  “I sort of panic when I suspect my sex dreams and desires are actually very sick, wrong and sinful”.  “Even though I really want to, I just can’t bring myself to do the things my lover wants me to do”.  “If I get into sex the way I’d dearly like to, I fear I’ll get addicted to it, my husband will think I’m a slut, and God will hate me”.

These quotes represent just a fraction of the many life-limiting, sex-related fears people are struggling with and are consciously aware of.  But then there also are the unrecognized, subconscious, sex-related fears which may be doing more harm than the conscious ones.

Subconscious Sex Fears

Many couples’ love relationships are being crippled, or at least limited, by deep sexual, non-conscious fears and the ‘cousins’ of fear – anxiety, worry, apprehension, sense of threat, etc.  Subconscious fears often are rather complicated, confusing and a little harder to get to.  After some in-depth counseling, Beth said, “I finally admitted to myself that I get mad at my husband for one thing or another, whenever I think he might want sex.  Then we fight instead of having sex.  Something about having sex makes me fearful”.  “Looking way down inside me, I suspect I still believe sex is essentially bad, and I was taught no one will really love me if I’m bad”.   “Understanding it that way makes me feel I might be able to change it.  Now I think I might be able to by talk this over with my husband by asking him to choose to be extra loving as we work to get rid of this problem.  I think that may work”.

Bill stated, “I see it now.  What I’m actually upset about is not her looking at other men, it’s when she looks at me I irrationally think she will remember my penis is small and think those other men probably have bigger cocks than I do.  God, I hate to say that but when I say it, it feels true”.  Barbara related, “I’ve been denying the truth so much it’s coming out in my dreams.  Although I truly enjoy sex with my husband, I dream about having sex with other women.  I’m scared to ask but does that mean I’m really a lesbian, or maybe bisexual, or perhaps a sex addict who wants it with everybody?  If I am one of those things what will that mean for my marriage, and my family and everything about my life?  That’s really scary!”

Everyone can have, and just about everybody does have, or will have some sort of fear issues related to sex.  When it happens to you, you may be quite conscious of it or it may affect you in strange subconscious kinds of ways.  The good news is that with healthy self-love and/or the love of another, plus with some good inner-work you can master, overcome and defeat fear and its effects.  But take note, it also is good to be aware of some of the things not to do.

Things Not to Do

Don’t blame!  Don’t blame yourself, or your beloved, or your parents or anyone else.  Blaming seldom arrives at solution.  Don’t surrender!  Letting your fears have their way just gets in the way of developing the love skills and methods which help you get past your fears.  Don’t keep quiet!  In the most loving way you can, talk to your beloved if you have one, talk to non-judgmental friends, knowledgeable source people, helpers like counselors and therapists and talk to yourself in encouraging, self honoring ways.

If it is your beloved who is having the most obvious problem with fears, don’t come at them without lots of love showing.  Don’t use argumentative reasoning, logic and debate skills on them.  Don’t use sarcasm and ridicule, and especially don’t use any condemnation.  Don’t try to hint, suggest, use innuendo or in other ways ‘beat around the bush’ about the problem but rather ask for their loving help, while talking clearly and directly about the difficulty.  Don’t use anger, threats, manipulation deception, withdrawal, cold silence or anything else that might be anti-loving.

How Love Wins over Sex Fears

Listen to Joe and Jesse.  Joe asked Jesse to do a striptease for him.  Jesse replied she would like to be able to do that but she couldn’t because she was too afraid.  Joe with slow, soft kinds of tones in his voice reassuringly said it was okay if Jesse did not do that.  Then he asked her if she could share what her reluctance was all about.  With much hesitation and nervousness Jesse related that she thought she was too fat, and far too clumsy and awkward. She said, “Joe you will just laugh at me, and it would all end up as a great big turnoff”.  Joe tenderly suggested that they just dance together, and as they dance together they take each other’s clothes off.  Jesse replied she was still scared but that was something she could try if they turned down the lights.  That’s how they started.  A month later Jesse turned on stripper music and told Joe to just watch and applaud.  Then she danced and stripped for him, better than anything he had ever imagined.

How did this victory over fear happen?  Jesse and Joe approached each other, and the problem, gently but clearly with stated truth, mixed with tender caring love. Their love of each other led them to help each other take small, careful steps toward what was desired.  Jesse said Joe made it obvious that his love for her was a lot more important to him than his desire.  And that, she said, made her want to do what he wanted ever so much more, and gave her the courage to try.  She also related that her self-confidence and self-love improved in the process.  Joe says his love and respect for Jesse were already big, and now they were much bigger because she worked so very well with him about doing what he wanted.

How Fear Can Assist You

When you work with your fear, it can assist you.  Fear is in us to protect us but, like all human systems, it can overdo it, miss do it, under do it, and otherwise malfunction.  Fear tries to protect us from harm.  However, many things we are trained to fear have no real harm potential.  This is especially true in the area of sexuality.  As Jesse learned, taking off her clothes to music could not really harm her.  No bleeding, bruising or breakage would come from it.  However, not doing it might be a bit harmful to their relationship.  So, whatever you fear, assess the harm potential.  ‘Harm’, by the way, is not to be confused with its enemy ‘hurt’.  Hurt, like fear, warns you that harm may occur, so be careful.  Some sexual hurt may occur, much like what happens with exercise, and then turn out to be a good thing for you.

What to Do

The basic thing to do is study love and develop your skills for conveying, receiving and applying love.  Then use those skills of applying love to work on your own and your beloved’s fears.  Whatever you fear to do, for healthy self-love, assess the harm potential.  That may take some research.  If the harm-potential is nonexistent or not high, carefully explore and experiment toward what you fear.  Remember, many sexual things can be lovingly done best by playacting and shared fantasizing.

In good loving teamwork, help your beloved to do the same.  You might want to read the book Feel Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.  If your own efforts are not quickly getting you far enough, seek good professional assistance in the form of a love knowledgeable, couples therapist with sex therapy training and experience.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Sexually, what fear have you already overcome and what sexual related fear might you want to overcome next?

Intimate Love, What Everyone Needs to Know!


Mini-Love-Lesson  # 259

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

The Experience of Intimate Love!

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

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

What Is Intimacy?

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

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

What Is Intimate Love?

Intimate love combines everything you have just read about intimacy with, for, and in the expression of authentic love.  Love simply is defined as a powerful, vital, and natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved (see The Definition of Love SeriesThe Definitions of Love”). Intimate love therefore, is a major, close, personal way of doing just those things.

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

The Main Path to Intimate Love

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

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

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

The Second but Equal Path to Intimate Love

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

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

Intimate Love Is So Healthy -- Physically and Psychologically

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

Is Risking Realness Required?

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Intercourse

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

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

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

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

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

Sexual Love With Spiritual Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #233

Synopsis: Very different mindsets about this topic help you explore your own, and how you might change your life for the better via love-filled, spiritual sexuality are covered here.  Explanations of spiritual love (even for atheists), sexual love, sexual spirituality, spiritual sexuality and their mixing and more.

Can We and Should We Mix Sex and Spirituality?

Which of these following people think the closest to the way you think?

Trevor said, “I can’t think of sexual love and spiritual love at the same time.  For me it’s almost like they’re enemies or at least they belong in completely different boxes in my head”.

Celia replied, “I’m just the opposite.  To me all real loves (sexual, romantic, parental or whatever) are spiritual.  If it’s not spiritual it’s not real love, no matter what kind of love it is”.

Donald added, “I guess I don’t know how to even start thinking about what spiritual love means and putting the word sexual with the words real love gives me trouble too”.

Darla related, “I’m wondering if that’s what went wrong in my love life.  Just possibly I didn’t do romantic love or sexual love spiritually enough, so maybe my love life was bound to mess up”.

Jacob then asked, “Are we sure we are talking about anything real?  What do all those words really mean?  I know what my religion and sex are but spirituality with sex and love just confuses me.”

Ava emphatically pronounced, “Love and spirituality are the most real things in my life and they’re what make my whole life work right including the romantic and the sexual”!

Noah then firmly declared, “I don’t think we can or should try to mix sex with the spiritual.  Sexuality will just corrupt the spiritual and bring us down into sin”.

What About You?

Which of these people comes closest to having said what goes on in your head if you ponder spirituality mixed with sexuality and love?  Or do you think something entirely different from all of them?

Now for a couple of other possibly life-changing important questions.  What do you think about your spiritual life becoming more sexual and your sexual life more spiritual?  While we are at it, what do you know about the many religious movements and teachings the world over and throughout history that pronounced the unity of the spiritual and the sexual to be a good thing?  Also what do you know about what the religion you are most familiar with has to say about spiritual and sexual love?  Then there is what the nonreligious but spiritually-oriented ideologies and philosophies say?  Finally, do you want to consider the spirituality of agnostics and atheists.  Many say they are quite spiritual.

Now more personally, Do you suppose you will live more fully and more fulfilled if you achieve a greater confluence of your sexuality with and within romantic love and spirituality? Will those you love benefit more from your love if you work to intertwine these parts of your life?

How Were You Taught?

Were you perhaps subconsciously trained to keep spirituality and sexuality in separate boxes in your head like Trevor?  If your love life has been very troubled or disappointing could Darla’s concerns be yours?  About these matters, is your background training deficient, conflicted or just unhelpful leaving you confused like Donald or maybe a bit rigidly dubious more like Jacob?

Figuring out what and how much has already gotten in your head about these issues is often a good way to start exploring for what may turn out to be stupendous improvements in your life.  I say that because that is what has been true for the many who proclaim the integration of sex and spirituality has been for them, nothing short of stupendous.

What Is Real Love?

To answer this question I refer you to the definition of love mini-love-lessons at this site (see “The Definition of Love” and “A More Ample Definition of Love”).

What Is Spiritual Love?

Spiritual love can be described as a sense of mysterious love connection with that which is perceived as being far greater than the self.  It also is seen as transcending the ordinary, the mundane, the usual, the normative, the common and even time and space, and as infinitely profound and often amazingly life changing.

Is all real love spiritual?  Sages of quite a number of diverse spiritual and metaphysical traditions have said that it is.  Interestingly, several teach that before anything there was only love and love in its need to be creative burst forth with the birth of the universe.  Therefore, everything of real importance is of love and especially is that true of sexuality because it can lead to the miracle of birth.  Another shared teaching holds that the substance of deity is pure love from which all real love flows (see “Spirituality and Love, Great and Grand”).

Throughout history and all around the world, those in love relationships, be they spouses, lovers, deep dear friends, loving parents of a newborn or even lovers of life itself, proclaim the experience of love to sometimes be awesomely spiritual.  Many a couple experiencing amazing love-filled sex testify to having undergone a profound, spiritual/sexual experience.

Some reductionist scientists posit that spiritual love must only be some unusual, neurophysical event in the brain.  However, others comment that this reductionist explanation might describe how spiritual love is neurochemically processed and that cosmically there may well be much more to it than that arguably arrogant conclusion suggests.

More Spiritual or More Religious?

Spiritual seekers tend to be quite different from religionists though many are both.  Spiritual quests lead seekers along mysterious paths into the unknown as well as toward uncertain goals.  Religionists, on the other hand, tend more to accept and profess established doctrines and credos.  Spiritual seekers often grapple with the great questions like why are we here and what is my purpose in life.  Frequently they then quest for their own individual answers and personal enlightenment.  Religionists more often conform and adhere to the belief systems provided for them by authoritative sources.  Spiritual seekers can tend to be more open to a diversity of love experiences and understandings while many religionists not so much.  At least that is what some research suggests.

What Is Sexual Love?

Sexual love is easier to define.  It simply is real love integrated with natural sexuality.  As such, it can be experienced confluently with spiritual love.

What Is Sexual Spirituality and Spiritual Sexuality?

These two can be described together as grand and powerful feelings of intimacy while feeling and acting passionately sexual and, at the same time, feeling intensely loving which brings on a sense of transcendental and oceanic connection with that which is far greater than the self.  It often includes awesome feelings of being a part of the universal, unknowable and immensely wondrous.  Spiritual sex and sexual spirituality also can be described as incredibly precious, highly personal, extraordinarily intimate, deep core uniting with the sacred spirit of another and/or a deistic presence.

Exploring Sexual and Spiritual Love Together

By exploring this mini-love-lesson, you already are joining millions of others who have, or are exploring sexual and spiritual love often together with a loved one or more.  I suggest the next step might be for you to read more about it.  There is plenty written.  For that, you might check-out Sacred Sexuality by A. T. Mann and Jane Lyle, perhaps followed by Sex and Spirit by Clifford Bishop. Love and Living by the Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, is full of the wisdom of love and the theological.  For a more deeply psychological understanding, Sexuality and Spirituality, Pursuing Integration by Dr. William F. Kraft will do nicely.  All of these help in giving a fascinating and wonderfully, wide-ranging look at the many components of our subject.  The first two of these sources especially cover what a great many, different approaches actually have done about exploring love-filled sex and spirituality.

Some books give sexual/spiritual procedures to follow in the form of a series of exercises, and a fair number of couples have followed these and reported positively about their results.

A Google search will show you a huge number of other sources, many of which are not very useful in my opinion.  Some are just propaganda for selling a particular brand of religion or costly stuff.  But then again, some sources are quite fine, helpful and less expensive.

The next thing you might consider doing is attending workshops, retreats, courses, spirit quests, getting group coaching and attending other more experiential events.  Tantric workshops and retreats are among the most popular in this area of spiritual sexuality.  These kinds of experience-based events have a great range of intensity and for some are quite shocking.

So, considering the experiential, are you ready for participating in or observing reverent eroticism, prayerful masturbation and sacred mutual masturbation, liturgical naked chanting and dancing, reverential group nude massage, sacramental lovemaking, genital sanctification, risqué and sensuous religious rituals, aphrodisiac ceremony, orgasmic blessedness, Goddess sex and a great deal more.  It is important to select carefully which of these kind of and level of experiences you will be okay with.  Be sure to get enough information ahead of time from those who are in charge.  Many of these are for couples only but there are ones for singles available.  My suggestion is to carefully consider doing at least one or two of these type things but only if they seem to have a lot to say about love itself and are not ridiculously expensive.  Perhaps start with the milder ones and watch out for con artists (see “Sex Fears Mastered with Love”).

Now, if you are in a romantic type, love relationship, consider together following a guidebook or receiving instruction in a course of spiritual/sexual/love-based procedures available via a well credentialed, trained and qualified sex educator, counselor or therapist with some modern loving, health-oriented, spiritual background and see where that leads.

This is not to say that a couple in a deeply loving relationship must search outside their relationship to learn and experiment with combining sexuality and spirituality.  In a mutual, loving and trusting environment, peak experiences can be achieved together.  Just don’t play strike one, you’re out; time and patience often leads to success. Outside alternatives sometimes offer things a couple might not have thought of or instructions that might prove helpful.

One More Little Thing: With whom might you lovingly talk-over this mini-love-lesson, perhaps mentioning where you got the ideas from?

As always Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If we keep the sexual and the spiritual separate, who benefits and who is perhaps harmed?

A Sexy Halloween Love Story

Jack and Jill (not their real names, of course) were both in their 90’s and starting to celebrate their 50th Halloween together.  In their first year together as a couple they hosted a very sexy, Halloween party inviting all their friends to come costumed ‘as their favorite sexy character from history or literature’.

Jill had read about Winston Churchill’s mother, Jenny, shocking Victorian London society by going to a big, Royal, costume affair as the prostitute who rose to become Theodora, Empress of the world’s grandest and most glorious Empire, Byzantium.  So, copying Jenny, Jill created her risqué costume, one made up entirely of strings of fake jewels (glass beads) including a totally glorious crown.  Jack went as a sexy sorcerer from a fantasy novel.  The party was a great success, pictures were taken and, thus, the first entry into their Halloween scrapbook was soon thereafter created.

Now, Jack got out the large, old-fashioned, leather bound, orange and black scrapbook and placed it in front of Jill.  Jill poured a glass of their special celebration wine, and they began to look at the pictures from 50 naughty, intimate and ever so love-bonding experiences which they had so happily experienced and created together over the years.

There were pictures from the Halloween, midnight, Goth wedding and party of their best friend’s child, where almost everyone was dressed in weird, black, Goth garb.  They reminisced about the Wicca ceremony which had been surprisingly spiritual and how everyone had cheered as the couple left for their honeymoon in a hearse.  Jack and Jill laughed and smiled knowingly at each other as they turned the pages and paused at a picture of one Halloween night that showed them so very together in their bedroom, lighted only with five, very saucy, carved jack-o’-lanterns which cast amazing, wanton, leering shadows on the walls turning their skin a mischievous orange color.

Other photos were from a nearby city’s gay pride organization’s costume party for everybody, which had been attended by thousands of gays and straights in costumes both ‘beyond the pale’ and beyond belief.  Some pictures were taken at the restaurant which every year held an after Halloween party, 2 AM breakfast reminded of them of the time they arrived and everyone from other parties stood up and clapped because their costumes and those of their friends were so sexy, elaborate and amazing.
Jack and Jill recalled with sadness as they viewed pictures of costumed close friends they had loved but who had since passed away.  They still were amazed by the New Orleans, French Quarter Halloween party where they had seen a woman dressed only in boots, a cat mask and holding two, live leopards on leashes.

The wildest pictures came from the time friends invited them to a nudist colony, costume party where they both went festooned in ribbons as elves. (Let your imagination work on a ‘nude, costume party’).  Jack and Jill hugged each other remembering the time in New England where they attended the telling of Halloween ghost stories at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Many other pictures showed them dancing into the wee hours at a costume ball; carving jack-o’-lanterns with their grandchildren and the friends of grandchildren; other super sexy times, in super sexy costumes, with dear super sexy friends; the Halloween hospital staff party were a nurse won the best costume prize by wearing only very skimpy orange and black bandages; the Boo-at-the-Zoo Halloween party for disadvantaged children where quite a few little tiny Darth Vaders were observed flashing their light sabers.

Then there was the long ago time they, with other Americans in Germany, gave a Halloween party with hand-made cardboard bats, skulls and skeletons everywhere.  Their European guests were very puzzled about this seemingly macabre holiday celebration; they thought it must all have some strange, religious significance, and couldn’t believe all the fun the Americans were having but joined in once they got past their shock.

Jill and Jack got a big laugh viewing the pictures of a dear friend who had come to their party looking extremely ordinary, until you realized he had three arms, one arm which mechanically stretched out stealthily to pinch bottoms and lift skirts at quite a distance.  Jack, once again, expressed his great appreciation for Jill going to the trouble to make a marvelous wizard’s cloak costume for him and one for herself as Queen of the Autumn fairies.  Even more amazing was the costume she had made for him as the Greek god, Pan, and for herself as a woodland sprite.

Pictures of another party where their blackest, dear friend came in a safari outfit explaining he, of course, was “the great white hunter”.  Then there was the time at a Halloween party where Jack and Jill sneaked into a closet to make out, only to find a unicorn getting it on with a fairy princess already there.  Other times of passion, after the guests left their parties were recalled, and they smiled at each other in the most intimate way.

As Jack and Jill went back through the many pages of their scrapbook, they cried together, they laughed often, they talked seriously, and they shared and re-lived great times of spicy and sweet love with one another and with those most dear to them.  Then they went to their special toy chest — where we will leave them now in this little Halloween story of ours.

So, dear reader, are you and yours doing as well at creating love experiences and using things like Halloween to help in that endeavor?  You can, you know!  You can weave together love, sex, intimacy and fun and in doing so grow your love-bonds and love-memories together most magically.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
If your next Halloween was a lover’s Halloween, what would you want it to consist of?

Intercourse Absent Lovemaking - a Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love skill lesson explorers the puzzle of sex without sex?; the great world of sexual variety for the loving; intercourse dependency; why have sex without intercourse; how do we start moving beyond intercourse dependency with a sample scenario; and a bit about fixing sexual intercourse problems:more.

Sex Without Sex?

Sex without sexual intercourse is almost unthinkable to some people.  When you say the word sex a whole bunch of people think sexual intercourse is what you mean.  Having sex, doing sex, making love and a hundred other phrases mean, to them, having sexual intercourse.

The truth is there are a lot of people having a lot of great sex and no sexual intercourse is going on.  Quite often there also is a great deal of healthy, real love happening, the intensity of the erotic experience is fantastic and yet there is no ‘penis in vagina’ sex happening.

The Great World of Sexual Variety for The Loving

For some people sex without intercourse is seen as a necessity.  For others it is seen as being preferable at least some of the time.  For a lot of people who really love each other sexual intercourse is kind of incidental so long as there is good, love-filled, emotional intercourse.  There is another group who somewhat crudely say “who cares how you get to come, just so you do”.  Then again, some proclaim there is so much more to sexuality than intercourse or climaxing they can do without both so long as they get to do all the rest with someone they really love and who loves them.

People who love each other ‘through and with’ their sexuality often tend toward engaging in a wide variety of different, erotic experiences with each other.  The more different things they do together the less they become what some call ‘intercourse dependent’.

Intercourse Dependency

Quite a lot of males protest things like “I just have to be in her.  In fact I’m driven to get in her again and again, that’s just the way I’m built.  I’ve got to feel that ‘inside her’ feeling and nothing else will do”.  No small number of females declare things like “having a man inside me is what makes me feel feminine and like a real woman.  I have to have that more than anything, even more than an orgasm”.
Others deeply and strongly want to have the “in” experience coupled with feeling their lover climax while “in”.  This is all likely to be quite natural and maybe genetic.  However, some people let this drive toward intercourse and/or climax in intercourse narrow their sexuality.  They’re sort of like the people who have to have meat at every meal or the don’t feel like they’ve eaten well.

There are those who are religiously trained that it is wrong to do anything but intercourse and so their sexuality has been unnaturally narrowed by outside forces.  From a health perspective behavioral variety is a good thing in almost everything humans do, sexuality included.  When humans have too much sameness in just about anything they tend1 to give up on it because humans are the creature that seeks variety more than any other.  Therefore, exploring for the wide variety of ways sexuality can be practiced outside of intercourse can be a healthy, enriching experience.

There are the millions who prefer oral-genital sexuality which some think of as a form of oral intercourse. There are men and women who are more desirous of anal intercourse than they are vaginal. A fair number of women enjoy and even prefer dildos and other intercourse toys.   There are quite a few people who don’t care which kind of intercourse is occurring, or whether or not there’s any intercourse, just as long as what’s happening  is very loving.  Along with oral, anal or vaginal intercourse some people also need to hear sexy words and see sexy looks, or they combine their intercourse with various “kinky” actions.  Plain  intercourse usually is not high on their priority list, though they can be quite intercourse involved.

Why Have Sex Without Intercourse?

Do you wonder why some people have and even strongly desire to have sex without intercourse?  One reason is to develop all one’s other loving sex skills.  Lots of couples who resist or abstain from having intercourse discover that they develop many other ways to excite and pleasure each other.  Some say intercourse-dependency deprives people of all the better things there are to do sexually with each another.  They say too much focus on intercourse makes for a rather limited sex life.  By not doing intercourse for a while other things often are explored, discovered and developed.  Thus, a much broader range of experience can be shared which often is a major joy in a loving couple’s life together.

There are a larger number than you might think of people who don’t participate in sexual intercourse for religious reasons, but ‘do everything else’.  These fall into three groups.  One is the group who has been religiously taught not to have intercourse unless it is to procreate – have a baby.  Another group it’s because they have been taught that they are still virgins if they don’t have male-female, vaginal intercourse, even though they might do everything else imaginable.  Then there is the group who has been taught that only  male-female sexual intercourse is sanctified (especially in marriage), and they are in religious rebellion attempting to break out of and away from their faith’s restrictive dogma, so they might do everything except sanctioned sexual intercourse.

Very large numbers of people do not engage in sexual intercourse because of medical reasons.  Sadly, some of those have just given up on sex when they don’t have to.  Sometimes they have given up because they are indeed intercourse dependent in the way they go about taking care of their natural, sexuality, and they are unaware or inexperienced in the many ways sexuality can be expressed.  They can learn that, in spite of injuries, illnesses and various other hampering or debilitating medical conditions that limit or prohibit sexual intercourse, they can have a great life of love-filled sexuality.  Even paraplegic and quadriplegic people can have a sex life, and treatment programs exist for accomplishing exactly that.

How Do People Have Great Sex Without Intercourse?

There are lots of ways people can have a great sex life without sexual intercourse or with only occasional sexual intercourse?  Some couples simultaneously masturbate each other, and some do side-by-side parallel masturbation while talking sexy to each other, or watching each other, or watching films.  Some take turns as giver and as receiver teasing, tempting and pleasuring each other sometimes applying oils, powders, feathers, toys, vibrators and other  stimulating actions and devices all over each other’s bodies.

Those people who have to spend time away from each other can do ‘Skype sex’ where they can watch each other do sexually stimulating things (according to company policies this is not supposed to be done, but often is).  Some couples watch the same sex video at the same time, though they are thousands of miles apart, while they talk to each other on the phone.  Of course, millions do ‘phone sex’ with their beloved on a regular basis while apart.

An amazingly large number of people, especially females, are sending naked and otherwise sexy pictures of themselves to their lovers as stimulating love gifts, and then delighting in hearing about what their lover did while looking at the pictures.  Oral sex, anal sex, spanking, B&D, S&M, D&H, Tantric sacred sex meditation exercises, mud pit sex, second life avatar with love partner avatar sex on the Internet, all sorts of role-playing, sharing porn sex, etc. – why the list goes on and on.

Not all these ways are pleasing to all people but choosing the ones that are can help loving couples share fantastic sex lives together without sexual intercourse.  For couples for whom intercourse is painful, somehow physically dangerous, ill-advised or impossible many of these ways are used and make available sexual alternatives which can show each other intimate, personal love and can make available loving, sexual adventures together.

What Does It Take for Couples to Have a Sex Life
Not Overly Based on Intercourse?

Usually it takes a very love-centered relationship where tolerance, acceptance and a “whatever works” attitude prevails.  It also takes being able to be lovingly open to experiments and explorations of lots of varying sexual behaviors.  Happy, shared, excited, anticipation, curiosity and a sense of joyful sharing in each other’s erotic, adventuring feelings also are great additions.

An important consideration backing up all these actions and adventures often has to be a sense of being able to (if needed) to take small steps, pause, back up or totally escape any sexual exploration with full, loving support from one’s lover.  Frequently a sense of strong support and protection of one another in each and every sexual experiment or adventure must be readily available for people to be able to move forward together.

When lovers fear their beloved may be critical, disappointed, disparaging , judgmental, angry, prudish or any other relationally negative process, it becomes quite difficult if not impossible for couples to sexually progress.  Also there has to be a sort of “we can try that again later” understanding.  No one wins by playing the destructive, psychological game known as ‘strike one, we are out and our game is over’.

How Do We Start Moving Beyond Intercourse Dependency

One way is to do a homework exercises that I sometimes assign which seems to work for a lot of couples.  It starts with a trip to a good bookstore and going to the sexuality section.  There a couple often can read and look at beautiful, erotic pictures portraying many of the different ways people can and do go about sex, with and without sexual intercourse.

It’s important to talk together about whatever grabs your attention, gets you interested or piques your curiosity.  You might want to take a book or two home, then share going deeper into the books with one another.  After that I suggest giving each other a full, very light touch, naked, all parts of the body massage with intercourse absolutely prohibited.

Following that you can begin to take little, mental, sexual adventurers like sharing some sex fantasy and maybe do a little role-playing.  There are more advanced ways to progress to sexual intercourse-absent sexuality, and then even much more advanced ways.  If you’re up for it you might attend a Tantric, Shakti or Taoist spiritual sex practices weekend workshop which many couples proclaim as the most amazing and productive way to maximize a couple’s sexual love together.

Sample Scenario

One couple followed this scenario.  Shy Sarah whispered, “I will go skinny dipping if you will, but it has to be dark and no intercourse.”  Timid Tim agreed, and it turned out to be incredibly exciting.  Then timid Tim said, “Let’s make out in the back seat of our old station wagon, and so they laughed and giggled while they kissed and fondled for hours.  Sarah, no longer quite so shy, had read about couples doing nude meditation together which they did and quite a few wide-ranging, new and intriguing feelings enveloped both of them.

Later Tim, less and less timid, brought home a sexy movie and side-by-side they played with each others genitals as they watched it, driving them into passions they never knew existed before. Even later their ecstasy soared when Sarah said to Tim, “Tease, tempt and lightly ‘torture’ me for the rest of the night.”  Tim quite enthusiastically obliged, although because of blissful exhaustion they didn’t make it all through the night.

Of course, some days later Tim came with chocolate syrup and did all manner of erotic oral things to and with Sarah.  Together they visited a sex shop and came home with a variety of toys plus a great eagerness to learn how to play with them.  Those were the beginning practices that went into shy Sarah and timid Tim building a love filled, not intercourse dependent, sex life.

Fixing Intercourse Problems

Couples who have sexual intercourse problems can do all the above, while working on whatever difficulties they might have concerning sexual intercourse itself.  If you have problems with intercourse, or getting started in the above described areas, come to talk to one of us who have received the additional training it takes to develop expertise in sex therapy.  We’ll be glad to help you.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question If you’re going to get into a sexy, new practices or actions with your beloved what would you really like them to be?  Do they include a healthy dose of love?

Dining with Heart - A Love Skill

Synopsis: Love nourishing the heart while feeding the body; a shared and broad ethology; love infused family dining; couples dining with love; serving friendship love; love, food and Eros; love and dining with self; the dining with heart challenge.

Love Nourishing  the Heart While Feeding the Body

A loving family joyfully shares a meal together, a romantic couple share a candlelight dinner, eating birthday cake with close and jovial friends, chocolates presented in a heart shaped box, kids bringing parents breakfast in bed – all give evidence to how food can be used with the sharing and growing of love relationships of all types.  It is an ancient adage that “The best meals are those served with love”.

A Shared, Long and Broad Ethology

Sharing food as evidence of a love does not only occur in human behavior.  The animal world is full of examples of both mammals, birds and even fish bringing food-gifts to their love mates or hoped for love mates.  There also are many examples where mammals especially, lovingly provide food to smaller and weaker and sometimes sick fellow creatures.  There even are examples of cross species sharing of choice foods and of different species eating side-by-side along with affectionate muzzling, licking, grooming and other likely love-expressive actions.

The evidence suggests that if an animal brain has a limbic system it loves, and if it eats it will mix some sort of love behavior with eating behavior.  The mixing of love and food behaviors probably begins with mothers feeding babies.  Wherever it begins the sharing of food, along with various other acts of loving care and connection, can be traced all the way back into the time of the dinosaurs.  And among humans it shows up in every tribe, culture and society.

Love Infused Family Dining

Making eating together a good, constructive, positive, family love experience is a goal that can be achieved in lots of different ways.  It is interesting to note that all sorts of parents and families who have highly productive, famous offspring had mealtimes together and that those meals were treated in special ways.  Many of the children of such families learned that they were to come to dinner with something by which they could enrich the rest of the family.  Everyone brought to the table a funny story, an intriguing question, a curiosity, an item to be appreciated or perhaps even a contrary opinion.

Different families had different things to stress but they all stressed sharing and the enrichment of one another by the sharing.  In some very musical families the requirement was to sing a line or two from a song or explaining a musical refrain.  In political families it usually had something to do with news related to a cause or a conflict.  In a good many families mealtime was marked by remarks offering another family member, or guest, some sort of affirmative statement.

Praises, compliments, thank you statements and other expressions of gratitude make many families’ meal times together a more loving experience.  In some families the most positive remarks are rewarded with an extra helping of dessert.  In some there is a rule against giving negative statements like criticism, put-downs and complaining; angry or hostile remarks are certainly usually against the dining-together family rules.  The prayers offering blessings for food and thanksgiving, especially in those families where everyone adds something to the prayer, can help accomplish the making of the meal a more love-oriented event.

Sometimes families that ask everyone to hear or discuss unhappy and stressful things at the dinner table can bring about bonding when enough loving care is expressed in the process.  However, such actions may cause indigestion and might bring about an aversion to eating with others in some people who have had numerous, negative, dining experiences.  So, one must be careful about using mealtimes as a time to discuss problems.

Another important thing to remember is to really pay attention to the food and appreciating what tastes good, making comments out loud and also to verbally be thankful to whoever spent time and effort to prepare the food.

Couples Dining with Love

Did you know the romantic, candle lit dinner for two is a relatively new event and was once thought of as an indecent, radical, anti-establishment thing to do.  Typically in many ‘old countries’ the woman served the male patriarch of the family first as he sat alone at the table and she stood behind him while he ate.  Then the other males came to the table and were served, followed by the higher status females who in some lands had to eat at a different table.  Then came the children who usually had to eat in another room.

Finally,  the serving females got to eat whatever was left in the food preparation area which sometimes was outside.  To this day men and women eating together in some places is quite frowned upon.  Males and females eating together counters the male dominance in these cultures and represents movement toward female equality.  Also for a couple to dine alone together adds the chance for intimate exchanges, the sin of self chosen love, and the possibility of indecency.

The intimate dinner for two can be a love feast when there are words of love spoken in soft tones of love, with lots of loving looks and eye contact, punctuated perhaps with touches of love, mixed with loving self disclosures of appreciation and affirmation of each other, and perhaps a little sexy, under the table foot action.  A romantic meal means lots of loving sharing and good emotional intercourse while eating, with strong focus on each other and the experience being shared.  A very important element, not to forget, is making enough time available so as not to be rushed or not to have the experience cut short.

Watch out for love sabotaging actions like complaining about anything, bringing up problems of any type, being distracted by anything, not paying close attention to each other, talking about unloved others, work and other non-couple positive issues, or anything likely to be regarded as impersonal.  Especially important is avoiding unappetizing, gross and rude topics.  Generally the idea is to talk about each other and very positive pleasant things, and to forget everybody and everything else.  That way you do a good job of dining together with and for love.

If one or both of you prepared the food and/or the environmental atmosphere, lots of focus on both of these contributions with words of appreciation are definitely in order.  Focusing on the thinking and feelings of each other by asking personal questions likely to be answered with positive, pleasant words is an exquisite way to dine with love.

When I have suggested these elements of ‘Dining with love’ to some people they have said things like, “What if I don’t like the food or I’m uncomfortable in the environment?  Should I lie, or just keep quiet, or what?”.  I like to suggest that to have a love-focused dining experience with someone that you look for what you can honestly be positive about, and say so.  Then leave the rest for later, or never.

The couples’ love-focused dining experience for two is 1.  giving a couple a chance to feed each other positive, love messages, in a romantic setting, while enjoying food, drink and atmosphere together.  And 2. it is a love skill that is worth adding to your ‘love repertoire’.

Serving Friendship Love

Friends can eat together and in the process show each other friendship love.  In doing so they can substantially grow and improve their relationships with each other.  Sometimes the eating is done informally, quite often in the kitchen, sometimes it’s via a dinner party or going out to eat together in a really nice or interesting, different place.  It can be friends preparing and eating a meal together.  The most important part is the same as in all love-focused eating experiences. The food is not what it’s all about, although that’s important.

It’s the human interaction and the togetherness that are paramount.  Are the interactions of love friendly, positive, deeper than with strangers, maybe sometimes rather quite but sometimes noisy with laughter, and are they often lighthearted and sometimes deeper and quite meaningful?  The atmosphere usually is less important than in the romantic, lovers’ meals but the environment is best when it is at least comfortable if possible.  Above all is to be personable, friendly, accepting, tolerant and sincerely caring.  To joke, tell stories, tell on ones’ self, and to briefly honestly brag, to let out whatever are ones’ larger emotions and concerns, and to talk about whatever is truly important to you may be included.  Also just being able to be quiet together is sometimes a very good, friendly way to share a meal.

Love, Food and Eros

She sat him on a giant pillow and put a turban on his head.  She was dressed in a shockingly revealing, harem girl costume.  She danced back and forth in front of him, erotically bringing him delicious tidbits of various exotic foods from a nearby table.  Then with sensuous twists and turns her diaphanous garments began to disappear.  She then poured aromatic sauces over various parts of her body and offered them to his lips and tongue.  He tasted sweet and tangy juices, and he tasted her, and then she tasted him.  It was indeed the finest meal he’d ever experienced, and one of the most loving dinners she ever served.  His only quandary was how to give her an equally delicious experience when it was next his turn to prepare a love-meal for her.  Need we say more?

Love and Dining with Self

Out of healthy, self-love do you treat yourself to love-filled, just right for you, dining experiences?  When alone do you slowly savor fine tasting food and drink.  Do you think something like,  “I will take time to treat myself well with something I really like to taste?  Do you make it a lovely experience with just the right environment and accouterments.  Perhaps you might enhance a meal with a good book to read, or a special incense, or going outside with nature, or turning on background music you really enjoy.  There are many ways to be extra good to yourself by way of love mixed with food.

A Dining with Heart Challenge

My challenge to you is to be focused on the giving and receiving of love when you feed or eat with loved ones or with yourself.  The challenge also is to develop your skill at making shared eating experiences, those in which you give the heartfelt psychological nourishment of love while also taking it in.  Graciousness, artfulness, thoughtfulness and a host of other loving ingredients all can be mixed in and can become part of the meals you share with loved ones.  So, I hope you are or will enjoy developing this love skill as much as any other.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question How loving will you be the next time you eat with someone you love?  What’s your recipe for creating love-nurturing dining experiences?

Attraction or Love or What?

Synopsis: Attraction/love confusion problems; understanding attraction systems; nature’s way; sexuality attracts but love bonds; insecurity issues; sharing attraction system pleasures.

Attraction/Love Confusion Problems

“Where can I go to live, where I’d like to live and where there are no redheads?  I know it sounds crazy but, you see, I fall in love with just about every redhead I meet.  I’ll never be able to settle down and stay faithful because the next redhead will come along and I won’t be able to resist this ‘falling in love thing’ I do with redheads.”

Does this person really have a ‘fall in love’ with redheads problem?  No, not really.  This person appears to have a ‘fall in’ multiple, perhaps serial, attraction issue which they are confusing with real love.  I suspect this person hasn’t gotten even close to having anything like a true ‘love’ problem.  It would seem they, like many, may not have learned to clearly perceive, understand, and think about the big differences between love (the healthy, real kind) and mere attraction.

There are lots of other ways that the love/attraction confusion causes problems.  To really see that, read a few more quotes.  “I’m getting wrinkles, getting gray hair and looking older.  I’m really afraid my husband will quit loving me when I look old, and then he will fall in love with someone who looks like I did when I was 20, and he will leave me for her.”  The woman who said that did not understand that it is not looks, but love, that best holds couples together over time.

“My wife has recently developed this thing for young men with swimmer’s bodies, you know, the long, lean, smooth-stretched muscle types.  I don’t look anything like that, so does this mean she doesn’t love me anymore and she’s really looking for somebody else?  The answer to this man’s question is “probably not”.  It just likely means that her attraction dynamics direct her toward having some enjoyment and maybe mild, fantasy fun thinking about ‘swimmer’ types, but probably she loves her husband dearly.  Her love of her husband is far more important than any simple, physical attraction dynamics, and maybe some reassurance of that fact is in order.

“My guy can’t stop staring at other women, and looking at pictures of naked females and stuff like that.  Does this mean he doesn’t really love me?  He swears he would never cheat on me, and it’s just the way he’s wired.  I want to believe him but my girlfriends tell me not to trust him”.  Usually this sort of statement suggests that the woman saying it is insecure about her own attraction power, and she is confusing her man’s ‘natural attraction dynamics system’ with his couple-type love for her.  She also may have been conditioned by society, and/or her family, to incorrectly think love always alters a person’s attraction habits.  Who we are naturally attracted to, and who we love can be two very different things.

Attraction can lead to a relationship getting started but then, in the long run, love has to take over to keep it going.  Once love is strong enough it keeps couples together into old age.  But often a couple’s attraction habits, which were established before the couple met, remain the same and operate independently.  A couple who can share what they are in the habit of being attracted to usually are a much stronger couple than those who can’t share because they fear triggering insecurity and jealousy in their mate.  One more thing.  Listening to friends advising mistrust really just may be listening to fear-based, mistaken perceptions.

“My wife keeps wanting me to watch romantic porn with her, and then role-play being the guy we just watched while she plays the female.  She tells me it’s all just sexy, fantasy fun, but I can’t help wondering if this means she is on her way to searching for love with somebody else”.  This quote suggests a man who would do well to study what love really is as opposed to attraction.  It also may point to a man who could use a little more healthy, self love and/or a little more reassurance from his wife that he is the one she really wants to love and play with, and the rest is just a way to do that.

Understanding Attraction Systems

The above examples just are a small sample of the many ways that confusion between ‘love’ and ‘attraction’ helps mess up relationships.  Here’s what research suggests explains our attractions systems and the way they operate.

A large percentage of males, and a smaller but still significant percentage of females are genetically ‘hard wired’ to be attracted primarily by sexy, visual stimuli.  A large percentage of females, and a smaller but still significant percentage of males are genetically ‘hard wired’ to be attracted primarily by sexy, verbal/auditory stimuli.  That is why men’s porn is largely pictorial and women’s verbal or written.  Other people’s attraction systems may be primarily tactile, kinetic, olfactory or a variety of balanced combinations of the above.  Of course, there are those whose attraction systems are primarily oriented to anyone, and everyone, who are in some way quite powerful, intensely feminine or masculine, highly sociable, high in status or popularity, or attracted to personal characteristics like intelligence, kindness, being humorous, artistically talented, individualistic, stable, protective, sexy, etc.

The existence of love in a relationship doesn’t necessarily change a person’s attraction system, especially if it is quite strong.  If you are strongly attracted visually or auditorily only, or in any other way, you likely will stay that way, whether or not you deeply, romantically love someone or not.  Therefore, when you encounter someone who activates your natural, inbuilt attraction system you will observe and enjoy observing what you are attracted by.  The enjoyment comes from your brain making neurochemical compounds that cause pleasure sensations when your attraction system is activated.  This is not love.  It is your attraction system at work, doing what it’s supposed to do.

Nature’s Way

Humans are built by nature to have many attraction experiences.  This seems especially true for humans with various ‘strengths’.  By strengths we mean those who have strong attributes or desirable qualities like leadership, assertiveness, the tendency to ascend and succeed, all sorts of different talents, sociability and of course ‘baby making and bearing’ potential.  We are built by nature to enjoy both being attracted to others and being attractive to others.  The enjoyment reinforces the attraction system and its operations.

Long ago when there were far fewer of us this system helped especially strong males plant their ‘seed’ in a lots of different females, and helped especially desirable females get ‘seed’ planted in them from men with lots of varying, strong qualities.  That helped mix the gene pool and create more and more humans with various strengths.  That, in turn, assisted humans in becoming the dominant species on the planet, so the system worked quite well.

Our love systems also were incredibly important for helping us to survive, cooperate, protect and nurture one another, plus a lot more.
Healthy, real love can develop after attraction brings people into contact but there are lots of times when it does not.  This is one of the ways we know that ‘attraction’ and ‘love’ are different.  Love can influence attraction to a loved one to grow, broaden, deepen and keep happening.

Sexuality Attracts, Love Bonds

Attraction can be partially defined as that which draws people or things together, or pulls toward it that which is ready and free to be attracted.  Attraction brings things together so they have a chance to form a connection but attraction is not the connection itself.  It takes healthy, real love to hold a couple together once they have made a love connection.  Mutual attraction helps people go ‘psychologically toward’ each other and want to keep going toward each other.  If healthy, real love develops a couple may become love-bonded and stay together but if healthy, real love does not develop they will, in time, likely split up.

Those who worry about losing their mates because they have ‘lost their good looks’ would do better to worry about how well they are doing love.  Those who jointly love well tend to stay together and those who don’t – mostly don’t stay together.  There is nothing wrong in doing what can be done to stay physically , sexually, or in any other way attractive, unless it detracts from the more important issue of giving and receiving of healthy, real love.  Of course, there are unions in which things, other than love, are of paramount importance.  Sex object wives, success object husbands, trophy wives, sugar daddy lovers and husbands, and status entry spouses are classical examples of other reasons people join together.

Insecurity issues

Do you have self-security and love relationship security?  These two things go together quite nicely.  Are you insecure about your desirability or your ability to give and get healthy, real love?  Let me suggest security in couple’s love is best attained by love not by looks or anything else.  Therefore, the self-secure, healthfully self loving individual has a great advantage over the insecure and the less love-able.  The self-secure tend to avoid damaging their love-mate relationships with fear-based actions, like trying to keep a spouse from looking at attractive others, enjoy flirting with others, having fun with wide ranging sexiness, being around other attractive people, having jealous fits and practicing restrictive control via religiosity, shaming or guilt tripping.  Most of those attempted restrictions usually backfire and make your chances of losing somebody larger, not smaller.

Sharing Attraction System Pleasures

In a solid, healthy, love-based relationship people can share the joys of their own and their love mate’s attraction systems.  Here’s an example.  Harriet said, “I so enjoy pointing out sexy women to my husband and teasing him about what excites him.  He is so cute when he’s both embarrassed and turned on.  I’m not threatened by other females because I know our love is strong, and sharing what excites us makes for intimate, special fun that draws us even closer together.  I really like my man being a real man.  Real men are turned on by lots of women, just like us real women can let ourselves be turned on by different guys.  It’s all just harmless, naughty fun.  Both of us get off on sharing each other’s lusting and just appreciating how others are attractive.  It makes us closer and never afraid because we create our security by sharing everything.”

Well, dear reader have you given much thought to understanding the differences between love and attraction?  Have you been getting the two of them mixed up with each other?  Have people been attracted to you and thought it was love?  Have you been flattered by someone finding you attractive or have you had your ego boosted and then thought they were in love with you, or began to wonder if you could love the person being attracted to you?  There’s lots here that you might want to consider.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question What are you going to do the next time you are rather strongly, sexually attracted to a new somebody.  Are you going to do guilt and confess it, enjoy it, fantasize it, deny it, hide it, ignore it, share it, or go after it?