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Equality Quality in Love - a Super-Good Love Skill

Mini-love-lesson  #201

Synopsis: The values, payoffs and subtleties of treating others as uniquely different but equal, and how it is best for that to be a part of a healthy, good, love relationship is presented here with a few author’s self disclosures.

My Unseen Flaw

My bad!  I was so unaware until an intern of mine pointed out a flaw in the way I was treating some of my patients.  Unknowingly, mostly in group therapy and in lots of very small subtle ways, she pointed out that I was acting in ways that favored males over females.  And I thought I was so democratically equal in the treatment of everyone but she was right.  It was right there on the tapes.  I interrupted females more often than males, I nodded approvingly more often at males than females.  I dealt with the guy’s issues longer and maybe even better especially in group therapy.  And in a host of other tiny ways I did not exemplify my own value of loving equality.

Group therapy can be pretty much like a family and I was doing about the same as the family males I grew up around, and I did not want to be like them.  But there it was and so I had to go to work on me and change.  I asked my patients and other interns and they all agreed that I seemed a bit differential in favor of males.  Ouch!  I did change, and sure enough, my work with females got even better results.  I also became a lot more aware of the subtleties of treating people more lovingly by way of equality.  What a good gift that excellent intern gave me!

The Quality of Equality

I learned a lot in the poor, slum neighborhood where I spent my young childhood.  There was an old, Irish gentleman that used to singsong-speak to us kids in ditties.  Here is one that went more or less like this.
    “There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, it behooves the most of us to treat the rest of us with all the love that’s really there for all of us.”
(Yes, there are other versions of this but that was his version)

See if you agree with this idea.  People are so incredibly different from one another that the only sensible way of seeing them is as unique equals.  It is my contention that treating each person with the respect of an equal who is wonderfully and intriguingly different from all the rest usually tends to get the best results.  Of course, I don’t always live up to that ideal and I sometimes let my prejudice programming of old still have influence.  But now I catch myself sooner and put more energy into my personal, always growing programming of equality.

I also suspect most prejudicial disrespect is just a big “I’m okay but you’re not” psychological game.  It is likely based in an attempt to hide from one’s own personal fears of being inadequate by looking down on others instead of on oneself.

Loving others by treating them democratically and as equals, I suggest, is a superior trait in a person.  Though that is a bit of a paradox, like a lot of paradoxes it turns out to have a lot of truth in it.  This especially is important in close relationships.  Inequality treatment seldom, if ever, leads to closeness, or much of anything else that can help a love relationship.  It can lead those treated unequally to keep secrets from you, to resist what you want, to make sneaky passive-aggressive attacks on you, to secretly sabotage you and may lead to out and out rebellion.  It also can get you hated and distrusted or at least disliked.

Treating children slowly and in small steps, increasingly more and more democratically, with doses of growing equality until they are functioning as equal adults usually works well.  Children nurtured like this also tend to feel quite well love-bonded with those who treated them this way.
That is part of a larger truth.  Minorities, the disadvantaged and those with less than equal power who are treated more equally and more democratically tend to work more cooperatively and productively.  They also tend to make contributions that they otherwise might not.  The prejudicially ignored, suppressed and repressed often tend to react secretly against the prejudicial, one way or another.

Historically this likely was true of a great many of the wives of old, and currently is true for a growing number of today’s wives living in situations of inequality found all around the globe.
So, you might want to consider the question “how well are you doing at loving others by treating them as true equals who in many ways may be different i.e. unique one-of-a-kind people.  If you do a good job of that, you may be seen as a bit superior.

What Anti-Equality Prejudice Are You Programmed to Have?

In the Chicago slum neighborhood of my early childhood, it was seen as appropriate to disrespect and look down upon the people of 11 national backgrounds, 5 ethnic groups, 3 religions, 4 of 6 social classes, 4 racial groups, 3 political persuasions, those of weird sexuality, all females and sundry others.

Whatever your experience and training in being prejudiced might be, I suggest you discover it and work to eliminate it.  That will help you be more loving, lovable, happy and superior to who you were before you did so.

Romantic Love and Equality

If you are in love with somebody and you do not treat them with democratic equality, are you loving them as well as you might?  Some might even question whether you have healthy or real love for them.  If they do not treat you with democratic equality, appreciating your unique differences, are you being well loved?  If the two of you together do not establish your relationship as one of unique equals, what will happen to your teamwork when you face the difficulties life frequently brings?

Singles as well as couples hoping for good, romantic love do well to be aware of the issues of equality involved in interacting and doing love-relating.  This especially is important for the increasing number of people getting into love relationships with people of differing social and cultural heritages.

I worked with a  lot of the singles who were frustrated and longing for more love than they had.  They did better when they changed one big factor.  They broadened their horizons, so to speak, and started mixing with new but very different groups of people than they were used to.  Some joined co-ed sports teams.  Others explored different spiritual and religious groups, still others got into the art or music of another culture.  More and different education experiences were quite helpful to many.  A lot of them got active in good causes.  With the different people they met, they risked being very friendly, assertive, and then flirting, and a bit later even seductive.

People of different cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, races, religions, political history, avocations, vocations, educational backgrounds, recreational involvements, sexualities, travel preferences and anything else they could think of that might be different from themselves were considered and explored.  The results almost always were at first discouraging but then, if they kept at it positive, good things started happening.  Many had to put away their prejudices and learn how to be enriched by the very differences they at first had thought too odd, distasteful or worse.

Purposefully putting the quality of meeting and treating new people with equality and as uniquely worthwhile paid off in the form of new adventures, new enrichments, new friendships and, yes, new romances resulted and new love grew.  Of course, it did not always go well, and even when things went well sometimes new, undreamed of problems arose.  Frequently these new romances did not fit the previously held “happily ever after/no problems dreams” of the participants but then again how many great loves do?  The good news is, real love often prevailed.

A lot of internationally mixed couples come to counseling when one of the couple insists on having a modern relationship of loving equality.  When there is a fair abundance of healthy, real love, that usually is achieved but not without work.  Overcoming a cultural heritage of gender inequality can be a very tall order but it is what more and more couples are choosing to do and to do with love.

Equality and Healthy Self-Love

Feeling and treating people as equals, I suggest, is a gift of self-love.  That is because it opens you up to what others have to offer which usually is quite a lot when you look for it.  It also gets you treated better by those people and by the high-quality  people who respect equality-oriented others.  Disrespect and putting others down and treating them as inferior just cuts you off from the many goodies people of diversity have to offer.

Some say, treat others as equals because it is the golden rule right thing to do.  Others say it is the charitable way to be toward those who are disadvantaged.  Still others remark, it promotes democracy and peace.  Then there is the group testifying that treating others is just practical because it works far better than not treating others with equality.  I say, yes, to all that and there is another great reason.  Treating others as equal is an excellent way to do some enriching, healthy self-love.  Embrace the differences and the people who are different and you will be enriched in ways more than you can imagine.  See everybody as a unique, multifaceted, work of art and give yourself the reward of appreciating and enjoying that creation.  It really is the self-love thing to do.

Equality As a Quality Gift of Love

Isn’t having an inner mindset or attitude that all people are to be viewed essentially as equal but intriguingly and uniquely different, a pretty fine way to think and act?  Isn’t viewing those people who are very equality-prone in the way they treat and deal with others, something you can admire and respect?  Isn’t striving to be more like them a worthy goal and one you will feel good about achieving?  If you become good or better at the skill of treating your loved ones with the quality of equality, might not everybody benefit?  Won’t each of your love relationships, including the one with yourself, flow smoother and grow stronger by way of relating in equality as opposed to inequality?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

How about you tell somebody about this mini-love-lesson and this site so you help spread knowledge about love and so you have somebody new to talk all this over with.

Affirming Love, Realness and Dodging Pitfalls


Mini-Love-Lesson #295

Synopsis: Affirmational love is so important in helping loved ones and love relationships grow but it doesn’t work well without realness and avoiding certain pitfalls.  This mini-love-lesson covers and helps with that.

Being Real

Affirmational love is incredibly powerful!

Affirmation rests on authenticity and sincerity.   If our affirmations are perceived as credible and realistic, they will encourage trust in us and what we are asserting.  If our affirmations are perceived as genuine, they can be relied on, whether or not the recipient perceives in themselves any of the same affirmed quality.  

When affirmations are seen as false, fake or unrealistic, they get discounted.  The person making a phony affirmation loses credibility and may be judged as untrustworthy.  Even if the motivation is to improve or advance a relationship, making false affirmations is like building a relationship on feet of clay --  it likely will topple in the first storm.

Positive affirmational love can encourage hope, especially when someone is facing a difficult challenge.  It sends the messages, “You’re not alone”, “I’ve got your back” or “You can do it”.  Be careful not to overstate your affirmation because the affirmation is to help a person grow strength in themselves.  Plus, if it is not seen as plausible, it will do little or no good.    Heartfelt affirmations are more likely to ring true and get through to loved ones.  

Sometimes no matter how sincere or accurate an affirmation is, it may get discounted.  For example, a parent validly might say to their child, “You played really well” and the child’s response might be, “You’re just saying that because you’re my parent”.  A loving, stronger, more detailed affirmational message may be required to get through a disqualification barrier and help the receiver glean its benefits.  

Some of What To Avoid

It is important to know what is important to our loved ones in order to be accurate when affirming their spheres of interest and who they are intrinsically.  If we overshadow their concerns or enthusiasms with our own, affirmations can fall flat or not even occur.  Remember, an affirmation is an assertion of something we find admirable in our loved ones and we want them to feel good with what we have seen in them.

It is best not to affirm the harmful.  “You are so sexy and cute when you get drunk” said to an alcoholic, rewards alcoholic behavior.  “You are a super daredevil” may encourage dangerous behavior.  “You are so lucky, why don’t you go ahead and bet the ranch” could result in considerable financial harm.  Encouraging unhealthy, dangerous or risky behavior by way of affirmations is not in the best practices of love category.

Another affirmational blunder is praising the same thing over and over.  If a couple has lived together for 40 years and she has heard him say, “You have such a cute upturned nose”, usually it will be brushed off because it has become boring and has lost its endearing impact.  What works well is developing a broad ranging and ever varying awareness of the qualities of those we love and affirming all of them. 

Of course, avoiding affirmations that smack of insincerity, phoniness, hypocrisy, mockery, over exaggeration or anything less than heartfelt affirmation might harm a relationship.  So, let’s not do that.  

Looks, sex, and work are areas too frequently singled out for affirmation, to the exclusion of all the many others.  These areas do not need to be avoided but need to be in balance with other important qualities deserving affirmative attention. 

Affirmations can fizzle or flop, as in this interaction.  

“I admire how social you are at the country club”.  “I don’t care.  I don’t want to mess with those people, even though I mess well with them”.  

If an affirmation sent is not agreed with or valued, it likely will fail.  What we do with that, if it happens, and it does happen, is up to us.  There are a number of ways to handle this but the overarching point is to stay loving to ourselves as well as to the sender when an affirmation flops.

Affirmations can be ill-used manipulatively.  Something to definitely avoid.  If an affirmation is used to soften up somebody only for selfish gain, it is not for the other person’s benefit.  Another example of manipulative affirmations are those books and courses on salesmanship that encourage using concocted praise and compliments to sell stuff.  Such tactics are destructively manipulative when used within a personal network.  Our affirmations need to be constructive to have loving effect.  After all, the very word affirmation means to strengthen and improve. 

One More Thing

How about telling someone about this mini-love-lesson and this website about love?  Spreading the positives about love really might make your world more love enriched. 

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question: With those you love and care about, do your praises outnumber your criticisms, your approval statements sound stronger than your disapproval utterances and you appreciation remarks number more than your fault finding?

Faithfulness Fears and the Love Cure

Mini-love-lesson  #200

Synopsis: In some surprising and different-than-usual ways, this mini-love-lesson addresses the problem of what to do when someone is troubled by fears that their spouse, love partner, special other is not being faithful.  Included are what to do before you do anything else, the role of healthy self-love, not letting fears take you over, using more and different love relating skills and the importance of self-disclosure love.

Fears to Face and Fight

Are you afraid your special other is secretly now, or going to get involved with someone else?  Do you fear maybe they are in love with somebody else, may be having sex with somebody else or even several other somebodies?  Are you apprehensive that they are planning to leave you for another who maybe has qualities you secretly fear you do not have?  Might it be that your beloved is more attracted to somebody more attractive than you, better at love or sex, or life, or something you are not even aware of?

Are you suspicious about their time with friends, their fellow workers or that they might be spending time with an old flame, an ex or someone you know nothing about?  What is going on when your beloved is spending time away from you?  Or when your beloved is with you are they longing or lusting for another?

There is so much you can fear, suspect, worry about, be threatened by, feel insecure about, have anxiety over and generally drive yourself crazy with.  What are you to do?  How can you get to a dependable, true safety and sense of security?  Should you just try to dismiss these fears if you can, confront your beloved with accusations, spy, be more controlling, restrictive and possessive, repeatedly third-degree question them, hound and/or beg them for constant reassurance, or what?

In my practice I dealt literally with hundreds of couples and individuals where infidelity, cheating, adultery, etc. was an issue.  I counseled even more where these things were a worry and cause of anxiety.  I shall be a bit braggadocios.  I am happy to say that the vast majority of those situations were worked out rather well, often for all concerned including the others sometimes involved.  What I discovered dealing with these aching and struggling clients was that focusing on healthy, real love made the big difference in most of these very agonizing, complicated situations.  So, what follows are some of the love cure particulars that helped the most and are best done before you do anything else.

You Must Include a Strong, Healthy, Self-Love Focus!

Struggling with the kind of fears we are talking about can be very undermining of your self-love including your self-esteem, self-confidence, self security and your all-over sense of worth. (“Self Love – What is it?”)  It is very important you work to keep your healthy self-love as you struggle with fidelity and relational fears.  Otherwise, your fears can take over, distorting your perception and cause you to make a lot of serious relationship mistakes.

Time again, I have seen fears of a lack of faithfulness have a frequently, unrecognized, serious, component problem.  That component problem is twofold.  First, there can be a preexistent, long-standing lack of sufficient healthy self-love.  Second, the lack of self-love gives rise to an inability to accurately examine oneself and one’s own contributions to what is really causing or contributing to the fears about faithfulness.

Without sufficient self-love, there can be a subconscious mindset in the person feeling the fear that works something like this.  “Secretly I think I’m not good enough to be really loved by my beloved.  That means I don’t have the attraction-power to hold or keep my beloved.  If that is true, my beloved is bound to want and get attracted to somebody better than me.  They’re bound to be looking for somebody with qualities I don’t possess enough of.  Maybe they already have somebody else.  Maybe I’m already about to lose them to somebody else.”  At that point, creeping and then flooding into conscious awareness is a growing sense of anxiety-ridden-insecurity and fearfulness.  Out of that comes a driving, sometimes obsessive, need for reassurance and the return of relational safety.  That in turn, then drives all sorts of often self-sabotaging fear-related behavior that seldom gives much relief.

The nature of the fears usually has a lot to do with the areas we secretly feel inadequate or conflicted in.  If we most fear sexual infidelity, our area of secret weakness is probably sexual.  If we fear losing out to someone more attractive, we may not see ourselves as attractive enough, and so forth.  Facing and examining our fears actually may tell us something about where we do need to improve but denial can make us blind to that useful insight.

Not Letting Our Fears Take Us Over

Sometimes our secret sense of inadequacy is more global or total.  That can give rise to very broad ranging and ever varying fears of infidelity.  Sometimes when that happens, the lack of healthy self-love can be so complete that a person becomes fully convinced their beloved is having an affair and fully believing their fears are definitely true.  Sometimes no amount of evidence to the contrary or reality checks can convince us to believe otherwise.  When this is the case, several profound, destructive and dangerous problems can arise.

Fear of infidelity can cause people to start spying on their beloved, invading their privacy, being increasingly controlling, possessive, blaming, obnoxious and unloving.  This, of course, is self sabotaging, counterproductive, anti-love behavior and exactly the opposite of what is needed.

In counseling sessions, I don’t know how many times I heard things like “he or she accused me of cheating so often I finally decided to go ahead and do it”.  That is how self-fulfilling prophecy mechanisms work – you fear something so much, you don’t know you are doing it, but you are making what you fear happen.  Fear-based behavior can crowd out love-based behavior and result in exactly what you fear most.

Profound, secret insecurity about one’s own power of attraction and worthiness can either result in or stem from the serious mental illness often called paranoia.  One of the syndromes of paranoia involves slowly, increasing crazy, fear-based fantasies of infidelity which the sufferer believes are real.  That can lead to destruction of the marriage or romantic relationship which actually sometimes gives temporary relief to the sufferer.

Rarely, it also can result in the sufferer physically abusing and even sometimes killing their spouse or love partner and then themselves so as to at least be with them in death.  Some think people who are prone to the fatal attraction form of false love are strangely attracted to just the sort of people who suffer from this deadly form of paranoia.  I have treated people where indeed this did seem to be the case (see “Fatal Attraction Syndrome – A False Form of Love”).

More and Different Love, Not Less, As the Love Cure

After self-examination and self love work, there is a second area usually needing attention.  It is not whether or not your beloved actually is being or wanting to be unfaithful.  Before getting to that issue, let’s look at the issue of love-relating and the quality, quantity, nature, and skills involved in your love-relating.

You see, you can have lots of real love and feel lots of real love for someone you love.  However, that is a very different thing from how well and often you do the relating of your love.  It is not enough to know you love someone for it to do you and them the good it can do.  You have to relate it or actively send and receive it, preferably with skill and coordination ( see “Love Is Natural – Love Relating You Learn”).

Occasionally it seems we can subconsciously sense poor or insufficient relating of love and the poor or insufficient interrelating with love occurring in a relationship.  That can arrive in our conscious awareness as a vague fear that gets interpreted as a fear of losing our beloved to someone else.  With that interpretation, we can mistakenly focus on defending ourselves against outside threats that do not really exist instead of improving our love-relating actions.

To avoid that mistake, ask yourself these questions.  How well and often am I, and are we, relating our love?  Have my ways or our ways of showing our love dwindled in quality, creativity, freshness, depth, intimacy, closeness, sincerity, power, realness, appreciation, or many other ways?  Am I or we custom tailoring and making special our love-relating?  Are we making and remaking our ways of love-relating current with who we are today, or are we a bit behind and out of date with what is current for both of us in today’s life?  How do we need to do our love-relating differently and better?

The Incredible Importance of Self-Disclosure Love

Many who have fidelity fear issues try to sneak up on the problem by just being better lovers, sex partners, more affectionate or nicer, but they do it secretly and without the necessary self-disclosure.  Doing those improvement things is good except that it may lead to missing the real issues involved and also the intimacy and closeness that realness can bring.  It also avoids team-working the issue together which usually is much more successful and love producing.
Of the eight major ways to show love directly, self-disclosure probably is one of the most important for fixing fidelity fear problems. (“A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love” and Recovering Love book).

This means that in loving ways you self-disclose that you have fears and insecurity concerning your own attraction power and your ability to keep your beloved from wanting someone else.  You ask if they think you and both of you are relating in and with love well enough to keep things faithful and sufficiently safe from outside threats.  You do that directly because those two things are at issue whether you consciously know it or not.

Thus, you bravely expose your insecurity and risk being chided, misunderstood or ignored, or just possibly lovingly dealt with and respected for your bravery and realness.  Do not hide your fears and try to look more okay than you feel, but do not overdo it either.  Also, self disclose that you as part of this love relationship may need new, better and different relating-work alongside the work of your love partner because, that too, turns out to be almost always a true need in the relationship.  Do not blame, accuse, find fault with, guilt trip, beg or be defensive.  Do good listening as you internally do good self-love.

Now, after working with all that you may be ready to lovingly ask if your fidelity fears have any basis in reality and, if not, could you please have some sincere loving reassurance anyway.

If you do hear that some form of unfaithfulness has or is occurring, do not totally despair, turn into a condemning parent, or retreat into being like a severely abused and hurt child.  A timeout is okay if needed.  The question to ask, and face, is what do you both want to do about it.  To work that out, couple’s counseling with a therapist experienced in dealing with faithfulness, affairs and cheating issues is highly recommended.  You also might want to look at the mini -love-lessons titled “Infidelity and Love”, “Infidelity & the Love Messages That Block & Stop It”, “Adultery and No Divorce Love”, “Forgiveness – A Much-Needed Love Skill” and “Forgiveness in Healthy Self-Love”.

Help spread the word.  Knowledge about love-relating helps.  Tell someone about our Mini-Love-Lessons and this site.  Okay?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: What do you think about the fact that most couples stay together after one, or both, have an affair, and they report they are glad they did, while most couples who break up over an affair are not?

Love Is Natural - Love Relating You Learn

Mini-love-lesson  #199

Synopsis: Here you learn about the incredibly important differences between having and feeling love and knowing how to do love relating. Also included is intriguing info about acquiring good love-relating skills in this highly significant mini-love-lesson and more.

A Lovely Surprise

Al, Betty, Carl, Dot, Ernie, Fatima, George and Helena were so surprised about what they had in common, besides joining a group for breakup and broken heart recovery.  Each had checked “yes strongly” to the survey question “Do you believe, or have you believed, real love just happens when the time is right and fate makes you meet the right one”.  Seven of the eight also answered “no or seldom” to the question “In your past, do you think you gave the how’s, ways and whys of love (not sex) much serious consideration?”

It turned out that, like so many people, these eight participants had not given love or love-relating the kinds of study, research or thought that leads to success in every other major area of life and human endeavor.  That is, not until they experienced the intense agony of breaking up and becoming brokenhearted along with at least semi-dysfunction in their everyday lives.  It was only then that learning about the how to’s of love success and love-relating became a major imperative for each of them.

Ernie put it this way; “Breaking up hit me in the gut a lot harder and got me down a lot longer than I ever would’ve thought possible”.  Helena remarked, “It was the same for me.  Now I want to learn everything I can about love.  The more I learn the better I feel and the better I do with myself and with the people who really count in my life”.

Learn What Many Never Learn about Love

Love is a naturally occurring process phenomenon, sort of like metabolism, neuro-cognition, immunity mechanisms, cell regeneration, etc.  It occurs naturally in higher order species and maybe in others also.  Real love has great survival value and is both healthy and healing.  While love is natural and the potential for it is inborn, love-relating has to be learned.  The better you learn and practice love-relating skills, the better you are likely to do at love.  It also seems that the less you learn about love relating skills, the more likely you are to have serious love relationship problems.  The same is true if you don’t consistently do deliberate, improvement oriented practicing of your love-relating skills.

Are You Setup for Love Failure?

Around the world, much of romantic, love mythology sets us up to fail at love relationships.  That is because around the world a very easy to make common mistake has been repeatedly made in numerous cultures and societies.  It is kind of like the once super common mistake of thinking the Earth was flat.  You too, like so many of us, may have been trained to make this common mistake about love.

This is the mistake.  To confuse feeling, experiencing and having natural love with thinking that, therefore, you will naturally know how to DO love-relating and, likewise, so will the person who you hope will love you back.  Having love and love-relating are two, distinctly, different things.  Having love for someone emerges naturally and is part of a natural, vital, life process.  Love-relating takes learning and practicing.

Without Good Love Relating, We Tend to Fail at Life and Love!

If you want your loved ones to succeed at life, learn good love-relating and regularly dose them with what you learn.  If you want to succeed in life, learn love-relating and do not forget to include receptional love-relating and healthy self-love.  Then practice what you are learning often.  Those are some of the conclusions flowing from contemporary research in loveology “Is there really a new field called Loveology?”, the new science of love.

It is love-relating which delivers love to us.  Without love we malfunction psychologically and biologically.  More technically, receiving the behaviors which convey, send and demonstrate love triggers vital psycho-neurological processes within us which have highly important health benefits.  Doing the behaviors of giving love has similar benefits for the doer as well as the recipient.  To give and get healthy, real love requires and is the essence of love-relating.  Successful love-relating requires learning and practicing love-relating skills.  Having and feeling love does not teach you the how to’s of love-relating.  That, we all have to learn.

Remember, depending on the natural process to do it all takes to have a successful love relationship is like a farmer depending on mother nature to do all the work of farming i.e. planning, tilling, planting, fertilizing, protecting, nurturing, harvesting, transporting to market, etc..  Families, which are started with couples relating, are people farms and love-relating is the prime, necessary work of raising the people farm’s crops.

The Two Ways We Learn Love-Relating Skills

Some people grow up in families in which people practice good love-relating skills.  They do not know they are learning those skills but subconsciously they are. So, we use terms like learning by osmosis or non-conscious socialization.  The trouble is a lot of people are learning bad or anti-love relating skills the same way.

Some people are like the laboratory monkeys who got just enough love behaviors coming their way to keep them alive but that is all.  They grew up in non-loving environments and never learned to share love actions with other adult monkeys or do loving behaviors toward younger monkeys. 

Consequently, they became depressed, anxiety ridden, unable to bond or parent well, and were quite socially maladaptive in their monkey tribe.  They also died early.  However, a few such love-malnourished monkeys seem to have watched the more loving monkeys very carefully and learned some of the love behaviors which then made their life somewhat better.  All that is pretty much just like humans do.  Now we know that the same is true of most higher order species and maybe others.

The second way to learn love relating is by consciously and purposely studying and practicing the successful ways to do love relating.  It is important to realize that, like swimming, you really have to get into the water and practice over and over.  Your actions can not just be repetitious.  They have to be actions moving you toward continued improvement and refinement so that you grow ever more skillful at love-relating.  You can not just think about it, or just do informational reading and fact absorption, although those actions can be quite helpful.

Another very important part of this second way is similar to singing duets or playing doubles tennis.  It takes really good practiced, coordinated teamwork for couples and families, deep friendships, etc. to do love well together.  Without love-relating teamwork, two very loving people still can seriously dysfunction as a couple.  That is like two really good singers singing different songs at the same time.  They just make noise instead of music.  Therefore, practicing love-relating improvements together is best for getting good love teamwork to develop.

Brand-New Ancient Knowledge

The behavioral sciences just now are beginning to get a really good handle on what it takes to do good love-relating.  It turns out what they are discovering is not exactly new news.  Many sages, seers and wisdom masters of old tried to teach us what we had to work at for learning to do love well.  Plato, Ovid, St. Paul, Rumi, Lao Tse Tung, and a host of others had things to say about what we had to learn and practice for love to work well.  A fair amount of what they taught about love-relating is now being rediscovered, supported and confirmed by modern research.

What is not much supported is some of our Western, standard, romantic love conceptions which stem from the 1200’s and the medieval French Courts of Love but still predominate in many parts of the world.

Love-Relating, What Is That Exactly?

Love-relating has to do with anything and everything effecting the way creatures in love relationships relate with, for, through, and about love.  Put more simply, love-relating has to do with all the ways we can relate to each other via love.

More completely, love-relating has to do with the relational actions of establishing, nurturing, growing, maintaining, healing, improving, benefiting from and enjoying a love relationship.  It also is about communicating with and for love, emotionally connecting with and for love, bonding with and for love and mutually enhancing and enriching one another via a love relationship.

Love-relating also has to do with the behaviors that give (send, convey, trigger, inspire, deliver, apply, emit, present, etc.) and get love, as well as with the thoughts and feelings which transpire in the getting and giving of the love process.

Love-relating can be done excellently, well, mediocre, poorly, badly or not at all.  To do good love-relating requires relating skills and, therefore, skill development.  Good love skills development requires learning and practicing, honing and perfecting and desiring to always improve further.
Most importantly, love-relating at its core requires the existence of healthy, real love.  That love motivates the development and practice of love skills which can lead to high, strong and lasting love relationship success.  Without learned and practiced, deliberate love-relating actions, we are outer-dependent on things like luck, fate, etc..  Even if you are extremely lucky, your love life will not be as good as it could be with well learned, good love-relating skills.

Are You Up for Learning Good, Love-Relating Skills?

Have you hoped that you would be lucky in love and that would take care of it?  Were you one of the lucky ones that grew up in a healthy love-relating family and by osmosis you absorbed the how to’s of good love-relating?  Or were you like so many of us, in need of doing the work of deliberately learning good love-relating skills?  Either way, are you going to do what it takes to do love pretty much as well as you can?

Much of the world we live in is not very loving and certainly not very good at teaching or motivating us to learn the skills of good love-relating.  Some people in some religions have tried hard to do it better while others in the same religions were busy at anti-love ways and doing more harm than good; somewhat similar things can be said about philosophy and psychology.

Skills of love-based cooperation vie with those of greed-saturated competition.  Aggressive attack and destroy power in many places is extolled over that of assertive, co- constructive mutuality.  Seeking I win, you lose outcomes is portrayed much more often than I win, you win, nobody loses outcomes.  Nevertheless, the last thousand years of history, or so, shows humanity in spite of major setbacks, creeping slowly upward toward a world lit with the light of love and out of the darkness of anti-love and indifferent, non-love.

In such a world, it is hard to find good, healthy, real love-relating knowledge but more and more it can be done.  And with that knowledge, you can base your practice of love skills and make at least your part of the world a bit more love filled.  You also can teach and encourage others to do the same.  That is the challenge of love in our world.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How much delight and deep enjoyment do you think you can create for yourself and maybe also for others by exploring and developing your love-relating skills?
Help spread the word.  Knowledge about love helps!  So, how about telling someone about this site and our free mini-love-lessons?

Hunting for Love

Mini-Love-Lesson # 198
FREE: one of over 200 mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries – worldwide!

Synopsis: To hunt or not hunt for love; conscious and subconscious hunting; the hunting controversy; hunting while married; those who give up hunting; science versus tradition; those who can not be bothered; five big helpers for good hunting and more are looked at in this mini-love-lesson.

Who’s Not Hunting?

Everyone’s hunting for love who has a paucity of love in their lives according to certain behavioral scientists.  They are hunting either consciously and knowingly or subconsciously and do not consciously know it but they are, nevertheless, hunting for love.  That is thought to be true even for those who do not believe in hunting for love as well as those who think purposefully hunting for love works against finding it.  With rare exception, those hungry for love and especially those love-malnourished or love-starved one way or another are looking for the love they naturally need.  Or at least so goes that thinking.

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I’m waiting for love to find me, and I went to the single’s club just to make friends and have something to do, but I wasn’t really trying to find love.  I wouldn’t feel right doing that”?  There is evidence that suggests our natural need to be loved and give love pushes our hunting behavior whether we are aware of it consciously or not.  If that is so, it seems our inborn drive for love will not let our conscious mind be fully in control of this vital need.  It will make compartmentalized thinking and denial mechanisms block our awareness, if that is what it takes.  At least that is what some researchers and love theories postulate.

So, do you judge this thinking may be generally true?   Is it true of you right now?  Are you hunting for love and know it, or maybe do not know it.  Could this explain some of your behavior?  Does this  explain some of the behavior of people in your life?  What about important people in your past?

The Married and Still Hunting

It would appear many love-hungry, married people also subconsciously and sometimes consciously hunt for the love they feel they need even though they are consciously, vehemently against doing so.  Time and again during marriage and affair counseling I heard things like, “I don’t know why I sat next to the single guy at the meeting, I just did.  Do you suppose that’s where my affair really started?  I certainly didn’t know that was what was happening at the time”.

Arguably, many of the under-loved and married are on the hunt most of the time.  Those who are doing it entirely consciously may be also readying themselves for divorce.  That seems especially true for those who tried and tried to get more and better love-relating to happen in their marriages but to no avail.

Another thing I heard a lot in marital therapy goes like this: “She tried to get me to go to marriage counseling many times and I just wouldn’t go.  Now she’s divorcing me and has a lover.  What am I to do?  Is too late?”  That is the kind of statement many therapist who deal with couple’s, love-relating issues hear time and time again.  The relational therapist’s reply usually contains something like, “Possibly it’s not too late.  Let’s see what we can do about it”.  Oftentimes, with a good relational therapist, that leads to reconciliation but many times not.

What about Those Who Give up Trying?

It is true some people have been so hurt, so broken hearted and have become so afraid of trying again that they really do not consciously or subconsciously search for love.  That does not mean they do not still long for the love that would do them great good to have.  Some of these people can do okay and even do well by living on a healthy diet of love with good friends, family, children, pets, their religion or deity and sometimes with a cause usually involving helping or enriching others.

Giving up on hunting for love is not always about romantic love.  Sometimes it is because of family love-relating gone drastically wrong.  Heavy-duty friendship betrayal also can play a role here.  Sometimes what is involved is severe physical and/or emotional abuse, rape, incest or some other serious maltreatment.  It also simply can be about loss of a deep, strong, usually long-lasting love.
Sadly, there are a lot of people who feel they dare not risk any love relationship, at least not with human beings because it may lead to too much heartache like they have felt before.

Another thing some therapists frequently hear goes something like this, “Getting the dog saved me from suicide” or “I stay alive because the animals at the sanctuary (farm, ranch, refuge, etc.) need and love me and I love them”.  Secretly, these people usually admit that one day they might start to seek romantic love again but not yet.

There also are those who previously had a great and fulfilling, couple love but their love mate now is gone and they are carrying on tolerably well.  They seem to do okay enough living off their inner reservoir of love, built up over years with a really good love partner.  Then there are those that have been severely hurt by a love relationship gone wrong and they essentially turn into hermits.  I have never seen that work in the long run, though in the short run it can allow some time for healing.

The Controversy over Deliberately Hunting Love

In some circles, there is a fair amount of controversy concerning purposefully or deliberately hunting for love.  One school of thought says deliberately hunting does not work because romantic love only happens when you are not looking for it.  Remember, love is supposed to be blind.  It sort of is like romantic love has to ambush you, sweep you off your feet or trip you up so you can fall into it and it can totally possess you.  That is supposed to be the way to happily ever after.

Some reply to that scenario like this.  Remember that although falling in love feels like flying, similarly like other forms of falling, it so often ends in a crash in which you can get really seriously hurt and harmed.

An opposing school of thought goes like this.  Generally, people do best at most forms of achievement by deliberate and deliberated upon action.  That way both their conscious and subconscious minds do not have to fight each other and can work together toward the same goal at the same time.  For most people, conscious attention given toward learning and improvement-making practice works best.  There is a lot of evidence to say that hunting for love and love relating are no exception.  While love is a natural phenomenon that may just spring up in your life, or slowly grow in your heart, successful love hunting and love relating takes learning.  A good hunter is one who continuously learns more and more about hunting well.

Assertive Hunting

Assertiveness means actively being willing to make the first move to connect, increasingly probing into and revealing more personal knowledge, sharing feelings and often simply asking for what is wanted.  Walking up to someone and saying, “You look interesting, I want to meet you” is truthful and both brave and efficient hunting behavior.  Can you do something like that?

How to Hunt for Love – Five Basics

1.    Start with Self  To hunt and find love, start by becoming more loving and lovable.  So, are you improving your loveableness and your love-abilities?  Are your skills at giving genuine, heartfelt love increasing?  How about your skills at receiving love well?  Finding what could become Great love may take you becoming great at love.

Were you hoping to be loved in spite of your anti-love flaws and your non-loving ways.  We all have those.  Well, that does happen but those who do their part at love-behavior-improvement have a lot better chance.

2.    Go Forth Boldly, Carefully, Truthfully and Often  Enjoy, but be wary of attraction, both coming and going.  Don’t confuse attraction with love.  They are different!  Be friendly assertive!  Remember, active choosers tend to be safer and do better than those waiting to be chosen, and certainly do better than beggars, buyers and manipulators.  As you go, be increasingly real with some finesse.  Playing games, faking, over or under presenting yourself, forever hiding your less-than-perfect parts, your history, etc. may help catch but not keep someone.  The quicker you assert your truths, the quicker you test for tolerance and acceptance ability in the person you are love-relating with, both necessities for healthy love.

To questions you don’t want to answer, reply with some charm and something like “you don’t get to know that about me, at least not yet” and don’t volunteer explaining that response.  Remember, it’s a bit of a numbers game.  Those who go (out and about and go different) more often get more, often.  For carefulness, don’t play “strike one you’re out, or anybody’s out, and the game is over”; but maybe after three or so strikes, it is time to at least think about hunting elsewhere.

3.    Defend with Self-Love  When something goes relationally awry, use your healthy self-love with self-affirmation to defend against putdowns, rejection, disregard, disapproval, anger, indifference, neglect and everything negative coming your way.  Listen and seek to understand but don’t quickly take-to-heart negatives.  They likely say more about the sayer than about you.  Remember, that without self-love, other love suffers – sometimes greatly.

4.    Risk Asking for What You Want – Behaviorally  Happily saying “I want some affection” is good but is not as good as following those words with something like “so I’d like you to kiss me right now”.  This is because until you describe the behavior that gives you what you want, another person likely is not going to clearly understand exactly what behavior you are hoping will happen.  Remember, no two people really think anything exactly alike.  Hinting and thinking, if they truly love you they will know what to do and will do it, might work after you know each other for 10 years or more, at least some of the time.  However, asking for what you want behaviorally more efficiently explorers for a couple’s potential communication competence.

Especially kindly but assertively, ask for and give self-disclosure concerning what is important to you, and him or her, and what you are passionate about.     Increasingly ask personal but not too early sexual questions, and remember to practice good listening skills all along the way.

5.     Discuss Love Early   If you are going to hunt for love, you might as well get right to it, gently and with finesse, but clearly.  Probably talking about love in general at the very first, looking to see things like if the topic scares who you are talking to, if love is confused with sex, if they are hunting for it, if they are working at trying hard to dodge it, etc.. might reveal important things to know.  Then get around to what happened about love to them before you met them; are they willing to work at and with love to improve love-relating skills, etc..  For discussing love, you might want to use the mini-love-lesson “20 Smart Making Love Questions” plus any other mini-love-lesson from the Subject Index that grabs your attention.

Good hunting!

How about helping spread the new love knowledge a bit by telling someone about our mini-love-lessons???

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How do you feel about someone else who is hunting for love targeting you as the goal of their hunt – do you feel turned on, happy, flattered, curious, angry, worried, scared or what?