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Forgiveness, Tolerational Love’s Sister

Mini-Love-Lesson #284

Synopsis: How growing tolerational love moves us toward forgiveness, freeing ourselves from self-sabotage and a more powerful, healthier future with others when it is done with heart and head working together.

Toleration involves putting up with Forgiveness involves letting go of. Tolerational love involves both.

A psychological understanding of forgiveness encompasses a mindful decision to reduce or free oneself from anger, vengefulness, obsessiveness and other hurtful and self-harmful, reactive states.  Other definitions of forgiveness include concepts like mercy, understanding (mentally and emotionally), clemency, absolution, forbearance and the like.  Remember, an understanding of tolerance is an ongoing willingness to endure negative feelings.  Tolerance also can be acknowledgment of people, ideas and behaviors different than our own.  Forgiveness and toleration, like sisters, can be found hanging-out together.

When we hold onto emotional pain, resentment, anger or hurt, it can harm us more than the person we felt hurt by.  When we forgive, we release the toxic negative and that helps us heal; this is an act of self-healing.  When we do not take things personally, it frees us up to be more tolerant by avoiding being trapped in a blame and defend cycle.  Forgiveness also means the noxious event does not continue to eat at us.  Forgiveness lessens pain’s grip on us.  It may occasionally resurface but usually not as strongly or as frequently if forgiveness is purposefully reactivated. 

When we ruminate on our resentment, anger, desire for revenge, hatred or other bad feelings, it can mean we are surrendering our power to change.  We also, in a sense, are giving away our power to the person or event that was the trigger of our pain.  True forgiveness helps us to regain our power, freeing us to live in the present, not the past.  We would do well to accept that we can’t change the past.  Forgiveness empowers us to have more mastery over our own emotional life in the present and the future.  That can make forgiveness an act of healthy self-love as well as love of another.

Tolerance can be a path to forgiveness which sets us free to be more understanding, empathetic and compassionate -- which are core components of tolerational love.  

8 Zen Habits To Forgiveness

    • Commit to letting go

    • Contemplate the pros and cons of letting go or holding on to the pain

    • Realize that we can make choices for how we feel and act

    • Focus on being empathetic

    • Take responsibility for our share of the difficulty

    • Focus on the present and solutions for improvement

    • Focus on being peaceful and serene

    • Focus on being compassionate

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting nor does it mean accepting, trusting, condoning or excusing maltreatment or misdeeds.  Not forgiving may be an evolutionary safety mechanism.  Being forgiving does not mean we have to suspend our cautionary suspicion which works to protect us from future ill treatment.  Not forgiving might mean we just are not ready at this time to forgive.  Forgiveness, if appropriate, can be an instrument for letting go and moving on.  Forgiveness along with tolerance often are essential for healthy, love relating.  

Have you heard the saying Betray me once, shame on you. Betray me twice, shame on me?  This speaks to the concept that sometimes there needs to be limits on repeated forgiveness.  The first infidelity may be more forgivable than the second, third or fourth.  Serial abuse can be reinforced and made worse by repeated forgiveness.  We need to be judicious about forgiveness and recognize that sometimes it may encourage unhealthy behavior.  Forgiveness, when appropriate, is a wonderful thing but when poorly applied it can backfire.  

In regard to the offender, forgiveness (if well received) may have a healing effect on them.  Forgiveness also may help them to be motivated to improve.  If they are hampered by guilt, shame or other de-powering feelings, forgiveness may help them to re-empower themselves and be more available for better relating.  

Like in a love-functional family, these sisters (tolerance and forgiveness) are conducive to harmonious, healthy and mutually supportive relating.

To help spread knowledge-based, useful information about love, please mention our site as the source of a whole lot of ways love can be done and done better. Thank you.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: When you forgive, do you feel you should give your perceived offender another chance, act nice to them or just withdraw interacting with them to protect yourself?  Or what?

How To Say "No" with Love!

Pamela had a terrible time saying “no” to the people that she cared about.  Her heart would pound, palms sweat and stomach churn every time she wanted to say “no” to a loved one’s request.She would think up endless explanations as to why she had to tell them “no” but the excuses never sounded good enough to her, plus they often were phony and that didn’t feel good either.

As she internally struggled to find a way to say “no” and make it OK she would start to resent the person who was asking her to do something she really didn’t want to do.  She also started to resent herself more and more for being so weak.

Sometimes she would try to say “no” but then she would be afraid she was going to hurt somebody’s feelings and they wouldn’t like her anymore and she would worry that this meant she wasn’t a good person.  In the end she almost always would give in and say “yes” to whatever was being requested of her. That often repeated internal struggle, made her dodge those who might ask for favors and it robbed her of any pleasure she might have derived from doing what was requested.

John was quite different than Pamela.  He could say “no” to anyone but it always came across as cold, distant and uncaring, or angry and defensive.  Both John and Pamela mistakenly thought that being loving meant one always had to give in and say “yes” to friend’s and loved one’s requests.  It would be selfish and unloving to do otherwise.  Pamela tried to be nice and ended up being sacrificial while John chose being tough as he tried not to care that people might see him as mean spirited.  Both John and Pamela did not know that one can say “no” with love and get good results for all concerned.

To be able to say “no” with love and do it well here are some things that usually help get the job done.  First, let’s look at how you might think with love when facing the dilemma of whether or not to say “no” to someone you care about.

1.  Focus on the concept that in the long run mixing your truth with your love is likely to be a better gift of love.  Reluctant acquiescence can lead to a halfhearted effort poisoned with resentment.  Furthermore, giving someone you care about a phony “yes” when your true self wants to say “no” may help sabotage your relationship with that person and it may help you feel badly toward yourself.  Giving them phony, good sounding excuses just helps you develop a habit for deceit while giving an unloving “no” tends to be abrasive and may be relationally destructive.

2.  Focus on the great wisdom of the ancients who taught “Love others AS you love yourself” (see Entry “Loving Others AS You Love Yourself???”).  The idea is to find ways to give love to another when you have to tell them “no” in order to take care of yourself.  Saying “no” is often an act of healthy self-love.  The trick is to simultaneously mix it with various ways of being loving toward the person asking something of you.  Therefore, seek to find the most loving way you can be while you give them a “no” answer to their request.

3.  Ask yourself, is your habit of saying “yes” when you want to say “no” fear-based.  When you contemplate saying “no” do you fear you will be disliked, rejected, get into a long, drawn out hassle, feel guilty, have to come up with excuses, reasons and explanations as to why you’re saying “no”, face retaliation, or what?  Remember, fear-based responses are very seldom truly love-based responses.  Perhaps you would do well to choose a braver way to respond.

4.  Are you one of those who have been trained to only say “no” if you can come up with an outstanding, guilt free, permission giving excuse for saying “no”?  Excuses are, of course, based in deception and they often try to hide the real reasons.  Consider that deceit, even when successful, usually doesn’t help us grow stronger.  Therefore, consider the concept that as a free, equal adult you may not have to give either false or very detailed answers, explanations, defenses or any additional statements past your simple “no” answer.  It also might be that no one really may be listening to your justifications anyway.  Or if they are listening they just might use your excuses, defenses, etc. to try to talk you out of your decision.

5.  Remember, healthy self-love involves self-care and saying “no” with love is an okay answer even if others don’t react all that well to it.  A truth is that those who say “no” well are often respected, liked and sometimes even loved more than those who reluctantly get talked into saying “yes” too much.  Often saying “yes” may represent frequent, needless sacrifice where no one will suffer harm because you said “no”.  However, you might suffer for saying “yes” and sacrificing your self-care.

Now that we’ve covered how your internal cognitive process might work let’s look at how to actually behave with love when facing the dilemma of whether or not to say “no” to a request from someone you care about.

1.  Take a few seconds to ‘center yourself in love’ internally.  You might do that by taking a deep breath, touching both hands to the center of your chest and silently thinking something like “I center myself in love, strong healthy self-love and love of another.  I reject being fear-based, anger-based, defensive, etc.  I reject giving false excuses, acting insensitively, or acting needlessly sacrificially.  I center myself in love and I will act from and with love”.

2.  Internally choose to care about the person you are going to say “no” to.  Perhaps they will be disappointed, frustrated, perplexed, hurt or even angry.  You can show them some care for their bad feelings right after you have said “no” to their request.  You don’t have to change your answer to do that.

3.  Purposefully chooses to have a loving look on your face as you say “no”.  Perhaps a look of concern, possibly a smile, perhaps a soft and compassionate expression but certainly not one that shows weakness, indifference or negativity.

4.  If you’re saying “no” face-to-face or on the phone choose to speak in loving tones of voice, perhaps cheerful and friendly, or soft and caring and definitely not wimpy, fearful, angry or in any way negative.

5.  In face-to-face situations an additional way to show love is to add loving touch possibly in the form of a pat, or a squeeze, or a gentle stroking and maybe a hug.

6.  In face-to-face situations show love by choosing to send a positive postural message, perhaps by slowly leaning forward, opening your arms, moving a bit closer, etc.

7.  To show love when giving a “no” answer to a request include loving words possibly like terms of endearment, or saying “friend”, or “dear”, or saying “I care”, “I understand”, “For you I wish I were saying yes”, etc.

If you are a person who has trouble saying “no” with sufficient, loving firmness I suggest you rehearse in front of a mirror and do that rehearsal in both standing and sitting postures several times.  Frequently it is only by rehearsal that we form new, better habits to replace old, lesser effective habits.  While rehearsing be sure to listen to your voice because voice tones are often the most important part.  Many people are not practiced at sounding both loving and firm at the same time, so that in particular is a thing to practice.

Perhaps you have accidentally taught others that you are a self-sacrificing “yes” sayer by saying “yes” too often to too many things.  Therefore, it may take some time to teach others you are getting better at self-care.  Keep at it and you will get there.  Also know that just because you could do something doesn’t mean you should do it.  Wearing yourself out and down with too many “yes” answers is not good for anyone in the long run.

Here’s a special word of caution.  If saying “no” in a love relationship situation gets you markedly punished psychologically, behaviorally or especially physically something may be seriously wrong in your relationship.  Perhaps your love relationship needs more democracy, equality, fairness, tolerational love or better adult-to-adult dynamics.  Therefore, consider individual, couple’s and/or family counseling.  Remember that in healthy, real love “no” has to be an okay answer, i.e. unpunished.  Especially is that true when it is delivered with sufficient love.  There’s a lot more that can be said about effectively and lovingly saying “no” but hopefully this will help you get started.  One other thing.  If you know someone who seems to have trouble saying “no” you might suggest they read this blog.

As always,  Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Does the way you were told “no” by your parents (or significant others) in childhood now have an influence on how easy it is for you to say “no” lovingly?

Becoming Well Loved and More Loved – Three Main Ways

Synopsis: Here you get to learn about the counter-societal, teaching idea of getting yourself well loved; and three main, different than usual, ways to achieve that; a three level understanding of love actions you can take; and dealing with the question of who is to be in charge of the love in your life; plus some fine book and mini-love-lesson recommendations.

The Importance of Getting Yourself Well Loved

Since you are reading this you probably have an understanding of the importance of love in your life plus you are being proactive not just relying on luck, fate, etc. to take care of your loved needs.  What you may not know is just how widespread and deep the importance of love goes and some of the major things you can do to put healthy, real love into your life.

The evidence is mounting.  Research in a wide array of scientific fields points to those well loved as living healthier and longer, happier, more productive, more successful, living more balanced, having better sex, helping others more, contributing more to the general well-being of all, recovering from illnesses faster, having better friendships and having greater success in all types of love relationships.

The converse also is appearing to be true.  Being poorly loved or unloved looks to be bad for your health and well-being in just about every area studied so far.  You might read Love and Survival by Dr. Dean Ornish.

The good news is you can get yourself well loved.  The not so good news is much of what our love-ignorant world tells us to do to have love, find love, etc. doesn’t work very well.  And then there also is the myth that you should do nothing until love finds you or your love fate is determined by mystifying forces over which you have little or no influence.  One educated estimate reports that relying on that myth gives you about a 15% chance of succeeding at love.  Luckily, certain in-depth analytical works suggest your subconscious probably does not believe in that myth and naturally pushes you to actively go searching for love whether you consciously know it or not.  Now, if you add conscious learning and thinking about love, like you are doing right now, you can vastly improve your chances with some well-chosen and well informed actions.  However, those actions are not commonly understood very well.  They fall into three major categories which I will present you with right now.

I. To become well loved – become more lovable and then even more lovable!

We can know that basically you already are lovable because you grew and got enough love to survive your first two years of life.  Otherwise, you would have died of a failure to thrive illness like marasmus because that is what happens to unloved infants.

Your Lovability is something you can do a lot things about.  First, it helps to understand what being and becoming lovable means and what those things you can do about it are and are not. One thing to do, if you do not already, is to own-up to the idea that you already are in possession of at least some natural, lovable attributes.  Your job is to grow them and your all over lovableness, add to it, practice it and then show it.

Being lovable itself can be simply defined as having and exhibiting attributes, traits and characteristics which attract and draw affection and loving thoughts, feelings and actions to you.  So, what do you know about the traits and characteristics associated with being lovable?  It is important to know that lovability has both a more surface and a more deep meaning.  Both are worth consideration.

Lovability at the more surface level means exhibiting traits like being adorable, amiable, charming, cheerful, cute, complimentary, engaging, embraceable, fetching, genial, pleasing, rewarding and winsome.  There are others you may want to add.

Being lovable in a deeper meaning way includes characteristics like being kind, caring, compassionate, able to be tender, emotionally warm, accepting, supportive, trustworthy, harmonious, positive, non-judgmental, affirmative, self disclosing, tolerant, friendly, assertive rather than aggressive, and most of all easily willing and able to be sincerely loving.  Here too, there are other characteristics you might want to include.

Now, you might want to start evaluating your own having and exhibiting lovableness traits and characteristics, along with goals and actions for making improvements.  Consider journaling those.  I also heartily recommend reading Lovability by Dr. Robert Holden, a book that could really help you grow your own lovability.

II. To Have Love – Become Loving and Then More and Better at Being Sincerely And Actively Loving!

This is an old teaching literally going back at least to the year one when Ovid put it forth in his teachings and writings on love and sex in his famous The Art of Love.  Modern, behavioral, science research suggests he was quite right.  Those who are good at being actively loving to themselves as well as to others are the ones most likely to get good, healthy, real and lasting love coming their way.

Becoming more loving requires learning what being loving is and how it is done.  It is a bit more involved than you might suppose.  Therefore, you may have to study it rather closely and repeatedly.  You may have to learn to think more lovingly and more about love itself (see “Thinking Love to Improve Love”).  You may have to cultivate getting yourself in touch with the many emotions of love and feeling them more fully (see “An Alphabet of Love’s Good Feelings”).  Most of all, it takes learning and practicing the behaviors that convey love and help you gain skills for getting love to happen.  For your healthy self-love, it helps to greatly enjoy doing all that.  Some of love’s sages teach that if you are excited and joyful in the process of learning to be more and better at loving, it is a good sign indicating you are doing it well.

To help you learn what the behaviors of love are, I recommend you familiarize yourself with this three level, 12 point schema.  Remember, love is complicated and this will actually make it more clear and simplify it – some.


Cardinal Behaviors of Love (those of comprehensive and inclusive preponderant importance)
Nurturing love actions (growth, developmental, actualizing)
Protecting love actions (guarding, prevention, defending)
Healing love actions (healthcare, recovery and well-being)
Metaphysical/Spiritual love actions (meditation, prayer, ritual)

Crucial Behaviors of Love (those that are acutely important and decisive in major, ongoing love relationships)
Affirmational love actions (affirming the value of the loved)
Self-Disclosure love actions (sharing oneself, transparency)
Tolerational love actions (tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness)
Receptional love actions (receiving love well gives love)

Core Behaviors of Love (those that are basic and foundational)
Tactile love (connection, affection, sexuality)
Expressional love (facial, tonal, gestural, postural)
Verbal love (words spoken and written)
Gifting love (object gifts and experience and service gifts)

To learn and have a fuller understanding of these categories, I suggest you consult the Behaviors category in this site’s labels links below and start with the mini-love-lesson titled “Behaviors That Give Love – the Basic Core Four”.  My book, Recovering Love, covers the Crucial and Core Behaviors more fully and very usefully.  The Five Love Languages, by the Rev. Dr. Gary Chapman, has helped a lot of people with the how-to’s of being loving with a different and somewhat simpler, action-oriented approach.

III. To Become Well Loved and More Loved – Become Love Active, and then Much More Love Active!

Go create your own new and better chances for love.  You can do that by going the same old places you always go, with the same old people but risk acting in more loving, new and different ways.  You also can do that by risking going to different places and with new groups of people while acting more loving in your new and different ways.

Take what you are learning about love and put it into actions again and again.  Go out and about being lovable and loving!  Make the places you inhabit your experimental love lab and your practice fields.  Have fun with honing your skills when helping people feel more loved, valued, attended to, cared about and enjoyed.  Give some thought and a little planning to quick hit-and-run loving, fast guerrilla attack love and brisk who was that mysterious stranger love actions.  Get some images in your mind of what those terms might mean and enact some of them.  Practice on just about everybody including yourself.  Do be sensitive to other’s adverse reactions and tame it down a little when necessary.  But if done with a smile and sincere good-will, you probably will get positive reactions and will be modeling good loving and lovability in the process.

It can be very important for you to pay the price of discomfort as you go explore new and different groups of people.  To do that well, it is important for you to ponder what you think of them rather more than be concerned about what they think of you.  Remember, socially it works better to be the chooser than the chosen and certainly far better than being the beggar.  Usually, the trick is to be friendly assertive (not aggressive) as you listen and ask questions more than you talk or work to impress.  It is very okay to target people you are attracted to but don’t forget attraction and love are very different things (see “Attraction or Love or What?”).  Much of what you do probably will not work very well, especially at first.  Healthy, real love usually does not usually come easily nor should it.  It works best if you count your victories as a whole lot more important than your losses.  You can learn how to succeed from both victories and losses.

Who Is Going to be In Charge of Your Love?

Doesn’t your life of love belongs to you?  Yes, you can share ownership with those you love and those who love you but isn’t it your joyful job to not only give but get yourself well loved?  That, of course, flies in the face of much cultural training which teaches going after love gets in the way of getting it, that it is egotistical and selfish and it is not the way love is supposed to work.  Could it be that those ideas were invented to keep the competition de-activated?  Could it also be that, regarding love, whoever said “the race goes to those who dare to run it” was right?  I might add that it also goes to those who learn to run well and practice a lot.

If you really get determined to get yourself more lovable, more loving and more love active and you use the three major ways (Core, Crucial and Cardinal behaviors) plus employ everything else you can learn to do about healthy, real love, it is likely but not guaranteed that your life of love will be a much bigger, better success.  Work happily to become more lovable, more loving and more love active and see what happens!

One More Little Thing

Who can you talk this over with who may enjoyably disagree or challenge these ideas or your ideas about these ideas?  While you are at it, we would like it if you tell them about this site and its many, totally free, mini-love-lessons.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Who and what got you to think the way you have in the past thought about love and how well has that worked?

Betrayal in Love and Handling It Well

Mini-Love-Lesson #208

Synopsis: The agony of betrayal; what the recently wounded can do to recover; learning to heal and protect oneself; five most things not to do; the no blame inventory with seven crucial questions for betrayal avoidance and recovery.

Stabbed in the Back?

What to do when someone you love, and who you were sure loved you, seriously betrays you?  They did what you thought, hoped and believed they never would.  They were treacherous betraying you and the love you shared and it hurt so very very much.  You trusted them and they violated that trust.  Now it is hard to believe that someone who loves you could do such a thing.

Agonizing questions arise.  If they could hurt you this way does that mean they are not who you thought they were, you were not really important to them, your love relationship with them was false, something is seriously wrong with you or this wouldn’t have happened; they are evil, sick, wanted to hurt you, or what?   Painful quandaries and confusions abound along with sorrow, anger, destabilization, insecurity, profound disappointment and pervasive mistrust.  Do you give up on them, end the relationship, retaliate and get even, figure ways to punish them, or do you forgive them, just suffer through it and try to keep going, look for a way to start over, seek outside help individually or together, or what?

Recently Wounded? – Go Hide for Awhile!

If you feel stabbed in the back and it pierced your heart, the first issue is about finding safety from further hurts where you can start to heal.  We do not tend to handle things well when we are wounded.  We do not think straight, make good decisions, understand things clearly, have good judgment, see things accurately, do emotionally laden work well or even, if forced to fight, do it very well.  Everything we try to do may result in more harm or hurt, and yet we want to do something to end our suffering and make it all go away and be better.

Consider doing what wounded animals do.  Find a cave and hide out in it licking your wounds, helping Mother Nature start your healing process.  Your hideout cave maybe a cabin in the wilderness, staying with a friend or with family, getting a hotel room or just locking the door where you live and staying inside.  While you are there it’s okay to cry, weep, rant, rave, thrash around, pound, stomp, eat comfort foods, sleep a lot or do anything that is not destructive to yourself or others, or do anything valuable and important.  If you want to be with loving accepting others as you do all this, that’s fine.  Maybe you can do the same for them someday.  Alone is okay too for a while or with loving pets around.

When you are ready, and at first in small doses, help your healing by starting to study and learn what you need to from this love betrayal experience.  To assist you with that, just keep reading this mini-love-lesson, and then go to some other mini-love-lessons at this site.  I recommend that you next go to our series (in the Subject Index Problems and Pain all beginning with the words Dealing With Love Hurts) starting with the one called “Dealing with Love Hurts: First Aid Tips”.  Then you might do well to look at “Changing Your Emotions Via Love and Love Smarts” and “Through Heartbreak Recovery to Full and Lasting Love”. These have been known to help and do much good.

Lasting Hurt from Older Betrayal

Sometimes it takes a long time for a love betrayal to cure.  Occasionally we can get stuck along the path of healing and not progress.  For both of those conditions some think it is because we need to learn something we are dodging, need to focus on something were not seeing yet or otherwise need to add to or alter our way of dealing with a love betrayal experience.  For those situations and possibilities, let me suggest you first finish reading this mini-love-lesson and then go on to “Dealing with Love Hurts: Pains Crucial Guidance” and “Trust and Mistrust in Love”.  I have gotten feedback on how much those two mini-love-lessons have helped others; I hope they help you too if needed.

Learning to Heal and Protect Yourself from Love Betrayal

Learning gives us options we did not have before.  So, let’s learn a little bit about love betrayal and some options we have for dealing with it.

Unfortunately, betrayals in love relationships of one sort or another are all too common.  Consider the research on marital infidelity.  Study after study shows that in the developed world well over 50% of married and unmarried couples face one or more problematic affair issues or crises at some time in the course of their love relationship.  The good news is most couples handle it, stay together and often even grow from it.  Nevertheless, it usually involves agonized dealing with lies, deceptions, broken promises, damaged trust, and the hard long work of relational healing.  What you learn now may help you avoid much of that.

Of course, there are a lot of ways love betrayals happen besides through duplicitous infidelity.  Sometimes they are quite complicated and confusing.  A son chooses not to follow in his father’s professional footsteps and the father expels the son from his family life feeling betrayed by the son.  But by his acts, has the father betrayed his son and, in essence, betrayed what loving fatherhood is really all about?  A daughter steals from her parent’s savings desperate to pay for her inclusion in a good but costly private, drug addiction, treatment program which her parents refused to help with.  Who really has betrayed who in this case?  Long-term and dear friends breakup over the public revealing of each other’s most intimate secrets, blaming each other for having started it.

Another issue is how value systems differ.  One person may see an act of betrayal as small and mild, while another as huge and severe.  “I only had sex with your brother once, and it wasn’t very good sex either, and besides that I was drunk so it shouldn’t count for much.  Actually, I think I did it just to get back at you for all the times you neglected me.  So, in a way it’s really your fault” said the rationalizing wife to her furious husband.  A lots of people assume their loved ones have the same values and also value things to the same degree as they do.  On close examination, that is hardly ever exactly true.

Lots of couples, families and friendship groups consciously and subconsciously fake values similarity for the sake of harmony until something comes along to reveal the differences.  When that happens, betrayal often is painfully felt and angrily accused. As you can see, love betrayal might seem more simple than it is until you start learning about its underlying causes and dynamics.  Not understanding that has caused lots of misinterpretation difficulties and wrong conclusion mistakes for many love relationships.  Consequently in love betrayal situations, it is best not to rush to judgment and to proceed slowly and carefully.

What Not to Do

1. Get Revenge. One option is vengeance.  I had a professor in graduate school who was fond of quoting “vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord God”, then adding “that’s because people can’t handle it”.  In my counseling career, the biggest thing I ever saw revenge accomplish was making divorce lawyers rich.  Otherwise, it did not work, brought on escalating retaliations, hurt children and other family and was a big waste of effort and time.  link “Anger and Love”.  Know that in love betrayal situations, recovery and revenge are usually antithetical.  Maybe you have heard, the only kind of revenge that works is living well.  I agree.  Go after living well, happy and wonderfully well loved.  Then show it off when you get the chance.

2. Live in Victimhood. Some people discover being a long-suffering victim has some advantages, at least for a while.  People feel sorry for you, give you attention and do stuff for you sometimes.  Also you do not have to do the work of finding out how to succeed at real love.  Furthermore, if you are good at being a martyr, there are those who are looking for someone in need of saving for example, professional damsels in distress, “frogs” and “beasts” who do not really turn into princes, and those who think themselves too weak to ever leave their rescuer until a better rescuer comes along.  You can do far better.

3. Never Love Again.  Some people are so hurt by betrayal, especially repeated betrayals, they decide to permanently withdraw from all attempts at love.  That is a lot like one might feel after food poisoning and wanting to never eat again.  We all thrive on the food and the medicine of love and we malfunction without it.  Remember, all forms of real love do us good starting and including healthy self-love, pet love, friend love, spiritual love, altruistic love and all the others.  Then, if you learn and practice the right stuff about romantic love, you much more likely will succeed there too.

4. Beat-up on Yourself.  Victims of love betrayal often are too hard on themselves and too good at self condemnation.  Commonly there is inner self talk which sounds like this.  “I must not be worth much for someone to hurt me like that”.  “It’s got to be that I’m not lovable or they wouldn’t have wanted to hurt me like they did”.  “How could I have been so stupid”.  “Everything I did was probably wrong”.  “If I had only tried harder”.  “It’s all really my fault”.  “I’ll always get betrayed and/or abandoned because I just don’t have what it takes”.  “I’m not good enough to get lasting real love”.  That kind of depressive thinking happens a lot in those who are programed to think that way.  You can learn to think in far more accurate, positive, energizing and love productive ways. “Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away” and “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”.  Use those and you won’t be betraying yourself with self blame.

5. Play the Endless Anger and Accusations Game.  Some people who feel betrayed in love are endlessly angry and accusational about it.  Anger gives you a sense of power when you feel powerless and that can help for a little while.  A better power comes from learning from it, then letting it go and moving on to new better ways of doing love and life.  As is said in all sports “you can’t win them all”, and even if you could it usually might mean you should have been playing in a tougher league.

Now, those 5 above might sound hard-hearted, and we all might need to cathartically do a little of some of them when hurting.  The point is not to get stuck there – it is not healthy or self-loving.

Conduct a Rigorous Non-Blaming “Learn from It” Exam

If you learn enough from a love betrayal and grow from it, you may not have to experience love betrayal again.  To learn from it, you have to not dodge but straightforwardly examine it.  The exam has to be rigorously honest and as accurate as possible.  Blame does not lend itself to honesty or accuracy and that is why it has to be non-blaming.  Blaming yourself, or others, or God, the stars, fate, etc. may have some cathartic value but not much else.  A productive, good learn from it exam means facing and dealing with tough questions.  Here are seven you might do well to begin and continue with.

1. What did I do that helped (not caused) me to get betrayed, and how can I not do those things again?

2. What do I need to learn about betrayal, it’s workings and its causes so I can better protect myself from betrayal and its emotional pain in the future?

3. How are my betrayer and I different; are we too different?

4. If I continue our relationship, am I strong enough to go through more betrayal, or am I too vulnerable and too susceptible to a reoccurrence to risk it?

5. If I forgive my betrayer, can I also realistically protect myself well enough to stay/be okay as I explore and figure out what to best do with this relationship?

6. How do I need to change and add to my thinking about trust, people who are and become trustworthy, and those who are not and do not?

7. Can I, should I, and will I dare to love without trust?
If your suffering from betrayal goes on too long or is too excruciating, get some help from a love-knowledgeable professional.

One More Little Thing

Who are you going to talk this over with, because this is really a good one to talk over with others, and while you’re at it would you mind telling them about this site and all its free, mini-love-lessons?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: What might cause you to betray someone you love, and how do you feel about that?

Compersion: A Newly Identified Emotion of Love?

Mini-Love-Lesson #214

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson introduces and discusses a newly identified emotion opposite to jealousy; it tells of couples’ experiences with it; its surprises, some of its problems, its proclaimed benefits and the growing attention being paid to it.

Learning About Love’s Many Emotions

We are starting to comprehend that love is not an emotion but does involve and manifest, not just one but many different emotions.  There are the different emotions of feeling loved, loving and lovable.  There is passion, compassion, serenity, tenderness, ebullience, protectiveness, empathy, union, kindness – and many, many others.  Increasingly, love is understood to be a powerful, natural, vital, life process more akin to great life processes like metabolism, circulation, breathing, etc. than to just feeling an emotion, even a strong emotion (see “Definition of Love Series”; “Many Good Feelings Brought on by Love”; “An Alphabet of Loves Good Feelings”).

With these understandings, we also are beginning to identify the many emotions of love and discover how they influence our health, well-being and relational life.  In the 1960s, an emotion of love was newly identified and named at the highly influential Kerista commune.  This emotion only has started to come into a broader awareness and usage, and only in some relationally-focused communities.
This newly identified emotion has always been here.  However, it seems to be rare, especially in cultures producing a lot of personal insecurity.  It is seen as an emotion which is opposite to the feeling of jealousy.  It is described as a wonderful blessing to the lives of the individuals and couples who experience it.  The name the Kerista community gave it is “compersion”.  It is pronounced sort of like the “com” in compassion, plus “Persian” as in a person from Persia.

A Couple Feeling Compersion

I first professionally encountered the emotion of compersion many years ago though I did not know its name then.  While counseling a couple, they told of having unexpected, strange but extremely wonderful, love-filled feelings for one another while sexually adventuring experimentally with another couple.  They reported no jealousy, only joy at observing their own spouse having new, different and very pleasurable sex with the other couple.  They both struggled to described the feeling they mutually experienced.  One said it was like being allowed into an incredibly rare and very beautiful, very personal, intimate sharing experience with their spouse.  The other related being awestruck by seeing how their beloved was with first one and then both of the other couple.
They both further related that they felt amazingly closer and more deeply connected to one another as a couple after all four were satiated and resting.  They also were quite relieved that there was no jealousy or other bad feeling involved, as they had worried might happen.  Through their story, I was introduced to this emotion, later recognized as compersion.

This couple previously had successfully completed some couples counseling.  This time they had returned wondering if something was wrong with them for having these new, strange but wonderful and perhaps addictive pleasures.  They had entered the adventure hoping for some “hot, naughty, go wild” excitement vowing it would be just a one time only, long held, and shared fantasy-fulfilling event.

Now, they cautiously wanted to figure out if repeating the adventure with the same or other couples could be a good thing because it had been such a big, totally unexpected, good thing in their lives so far.  They also had promised each other to be reassuring and comforting of each other if either one felt insecure, threatened, jealous or anything else negative, which so far they did not.  So, they asked the question “are we crazy and is something wrong with us for feeling the way we do, or what?”.
That session ended with them agreeing to do some research on what other couples had experienced in similar situations and find out if there was reliable information about couples doing this sort of thing.  They came to the next session excitedly telling about discovering what the Buddhists call “MUDITA”, a feeling of joy in another’s joy, coming from joy being shared and experienced with someone else.  This couple also had discovered what the polyamorists were saying about the happiness of couples sexually, romantically and even maritally being involved in other love relationships.

They also had uncovered a range of problems that sometimes go wrong in such arrangements.  Then there was the potential of dangerous, sexually transmitted diseases which this couple was beginning to take more seriously.  Those discoveries led this couple to the conclusion that, for now, they had done enough adventuring and when STD’s were more medically manageable they might revisit the issue.  Until then, they would enjoy sharing their memories and creating erotic fantasies together.
Since then, I have counseled couples, throuples (see post “Throuple Love, a Worldwide Growing Way of the Future?”), polyamores and other alternate lifestyle relators who expressed having similar experiences and feelings.  Thanks mostly to the polyamore community, the word/feeling compersion and its definition, understanding, etc. is spreading.

It now is coming into wider usage to explain these feelings of joy when observing an intimate other’s sexual, romantic, even marital, joyful experience.
I think learning about loving in all its varied ways, even when unusual or different from what one is used to, can expand one’s thinking and perception of what love encompasses; this certainly has been true for me personally and professionally.

What do we need to know about the Emotion of Compersion?
This word is understood a bit differently in several different communities.  There are those who see it as unhealthy and perverse.  In others, it is argued that compersion is a proof of real, strong and healthy love.  That is because compersion is thought to reveal a person whose love surpasses jealousy, envy, insecurity, possessiveness and the cultural training to feel those things in romantic, love relationships.  Arguably, it also shows a person able to be happy for the happiness of the person they love, being happy without fear concerning the source of a heart-mates happiness.

Among poly, throuples, swingers, trans, bi and certain religious groups, there is a debated point that goes something like this:

If you and your partner, who you deeply love, can feel joy at seeing each other take joy in having sex with others, doesn’t that give evidence of you and your partner possessing a very strong and secure love bond?  Doesn’t it also offer evidence of your healthy self-love being quite strong?

If you and your heart partner both can observe and participate in sex with another, feel joy without jealousy or feel threatened, being insecure, angry or fearful, is that not proof of having a powerful, unconditional love for one another?  Isn’t it also evidence that you and your love mate have freed yourselves from society’s training and programming effects which often result in destructive jealousy, possessiveness, suspiciousness, mistrust, distrust and fear-based ways of seeing each other?

In its broadest usage, compersion is related to feeling love-related-joy whenever you see someone you love have happiness in their experiences with another person, irrespective of whether or not those experiences are sexual, romantic or of marital type love.

Examples can help.  Here are two:

After a counseling session, I saw an adult daughter happily introduce her mother to her father’s girlfriend.  Then all three of them went to pick up the father and go to dinner together.  It had been arranged that the girlfriend was going to spend the night with the father and mother, and that the daughter would fix breakfast for all of them the next morning.  In a follow-up session, all related that they were quite happy seeing each other be happy with each other and with the whole experience.
A husband and wife both told of how happy they were to rush home and tell each other about the dates they had just gone on with romantic others.  They took joy in each other’s date experience, often getting sexual with each other in the process, but not always.  Sometimes they were just happy for the other one’s happiness.

Compersion is related to another newly identified, similar emotion called “frubble”.  Feeling frubble means feeling joy when those you love are actively expressing their love to one another.  It may or may not be about sex, romantic love or marital type love in some communities, but in others it definitely has to do with sex or some manifestation of adult to adult love.

In certain religious circles, there are those who can relate compersion to the Buddhist emotion of mudita and/or to the ancient Greek koinonia which, as an emotion, has to do with the feeling of a joyous love unity with the Deity and simultaneously with one’s own gathered and similar feeling community of faith.

More specifically and more usually, compersion has to do with a person feeling not jealous, but love-filled joy when experiencing someone they intimately love have a happy, sexual and/or love experience with a third-party.  It definitely is an “I’m happy when I see you happy because I love you” kind of emotional experience.

Some think compersion may happen more easily in those language groups who do not have a possessive case way of talking or perhaps even thinking.  It also may be easier for those growing up in cultures with multiple person marriage systems and non-monogamous emphasizing societies.

Do You Want to Feel Compersion?

Compersion can be strongly recommended over feeling the destructive anguish of jealousy or lifeless indifference.  Of course, if feeling simple uncomplicated trust can be achieved via monogamous couple love, that also can be quite desirable.  Learning to feel compersion might save you from a painful breakup, or divorce, or a lot of horrible fights, or times of fear-filled loneliness, and depression.  Compersion also might be the only way leading to success in certain love relationships.
Compersion for many, means first battling jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity and its related low self love, suspiciousness, defensive anger, compulsion to control, tendencies to start to fight or take flight, avoid risk and conform, and a host of other problematic things.  A great deal of tolerational love (see “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”) also may be necessary.

It seems a fair number of those who come to feel compersion fairly easily, often had to fight their way there by way of lots of internal struggles.  They went back and forth between compersion and jealousy, or felt both simultaneously, as they worked to keep a primary love relationship alive and growing and with those struggles they grew a deeper, more intimate love.  Others continue, and with enough healthy, real love and loving support, may likely win their struggle.  Frequently self sabotage from a jealous and insecure, internal self is the biggest problem.  Those who succeeded are reportedly very happy about it.  Others have tried and given up but hopefully they grew and learned a lot in the process.

Paul, of the New Testament, tells us love is not jealous.  He did not tell us that love, instead of jealousy, could manifest the emotion of compersion maybe because no one knew about it or had a word for it.  However, now you do know about it and even might want to do something with that love knowledge, or not.

One More Little Thing

Wouldn’t you find it interesting and enjoyable to spread some love knowledge by talking over compersion with someone, and if you do, please mention this site and its many totally free love lessons.  Thanks.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  What do you think of the idea that if you have enough healthy self-love you won’t be jealous?