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Asking For What You Want-- with Love!

Synopsis: Why asking is crucially important; Three basic things to understand; Three blocks to get past; 10 essential questions to ask yourself first; The seven major elements of a really good love request to learn and practice.

The research is conclusive.  Asking for what you want is crucial to the success of ongoing love relationships.  Not asking for what you want honestly, accurately, sufficiently and frequently is likely to have a detrimental, even destructive effect on every adult love relationship you have.

The research also is clear that people in a great many couple, family, friendship and other love relationships don’t do a good job of effectively asking for what they want and, therefore, they frequently don’t get what they want.  This leads to disappointment, misunderstandings, frustration, anger, fights, loneliness, breakups and many other forms of agony and dysfunction.  From ineffective, and sometimes even nonexistent requests flow many of the worst relational problems which, with the making of good requests, might mostly be avoided.

It’s important to understand three ‘basic, background concepts regarding ‘asking for what you want’:

Concept 1.  Asking shares yourself Whenever you ask for something you want you have shared an important part of yourself.  To not ask is to not share an important truth about you.  Remember, one of the eight major ways to directly love someone is termed Self Disclosure Love.  The truth seems to be we always are going after what we want subconsciously, semi-consciously or consciously.  Everything that lives survives by going after what it wants.  Going after it consciously and clearly by verbally asking for what we want makes the teamwork of relationship much more clear and much more likely to work.  Clearly sharing your desires helps those you love to not have to guess, to not miss important aspects of you, to not make mistakes and it can help them feel not only personally shared with but personally important and valued.

Concept 2.  Asking is responsible love behavior If I ‘own’ a desire or want, as an adult I ‘own’ the responsibility to do something about my desire or want.  You can help but it’s my job to do something about it.  I can use my response-ability of verbalizing clearly what I want with my love response-ability by making my requests known as lovingly as possible.  By using terms of endearment, soft tones of voice, loving facial expressions, and perhaps loving touch mixed with honest, behaviorally clear requests, two or more people can responsibly create the teamwork of good love relating.

Concept 3.  Asking fulfills love needs best In your wants are hidden your needs.  You may want the pleasure of a caress and biologically need the neurochemical endorphin release the caress activates.  To function well we need the nourishment of healthy, real love.  The quickest and most efficient way to get that needed nourishment is to ask for it.  As you perhaps have noticed, I am fond of saying love is an essential psychological food that nourishes us pretty much like healthy, physical food does.  Love energizes us and without it we begin to malfunction in numerous psycho-biological and relational ways.  Love relationships work just like restaurants.  They can provide you very enjoyable nourishment and may even come with a very pleasant milieu but they both depend on just one thing – asking for what you want.

Imagine going to a restaurant and not asking for what you want, and imagine what you would get.  It might be similar to what you get in a love relationship when you don’t do a good job of asking for what you want.  I suggest that the better you ask the better your chances are of actually getting what you want (no guarantee).  Equally important is hearing and understanding rather exactly what your beloved wants.  Much of giving healthy, real love is about helping your loved ones get what they want and perhaps to get what they need.

You may be blocked from asking for what you want by three dangerous and often destructive myths.  One myth is ‘If you really love me you know what I want, and you will give it to me’.  (See “Anti-Love Myth #1: True Love Means You Will Know What to Do”).  Let me suggest the truth is that love does not come with a crystal ball or automatic mind-reading ability, therefore, communication, including asking for what you want, is necessary.  The next myth is ‘If I have to ask you for what I want it spoils getting it’.  That is only true if you make it so.  Let me suggest that asking for what you want is a gift of self loving, self disclosure and letting yourself be vulnerable with a loved one.

Withholding what you want often can help your loved ones fail at loving you and,  therefore, actually is an anti-love act.  A third myth is ‘Asking for what I want is selfish and unloving’.  The 3000-year-old admonition to ‘love others AS you love yourself’ is wonderfully just right.  It provides for the possibility of ‘I win , you win and there need be no loser’ outcomes.  (See “Loving Others AS You Love Yourself???”)  I suggest asking for what you want is an act of healthy self-love that’s necessary for the workings of healthy love relationships.

Asking Yourself Ten Essential Questions first Here are 10 very important questions to ask yourself before you start learning how to do a better job of asking for what you want with love:
1. Do I wait so long to say something about what I want that I come across unhappy, mad or otherwise negative when I finally do bring it up?

2. Do I gripe and complain about not getting what I want as a way to ask for it and, thus, sabotage the whole process?

3. Do I pick poor and bad times to bring up what I want, like when we are tired, in a rush, at work, stressed, needing to focus on other things, etc.?

4. Do I complain more about what I don’t get than give thanks and praise for what I do get?

5. Do I make my requests too vague, abstract, general and nonspecific, thus, sabotaging my chances for getting what I really want?

6. Do I hint, give clues, and generally ask indirectly, instead of directly and clearly asking for what I want?

7. Do I let fears, apprehension, and doubts slow or stop me from asking for what I want, especially about the love and its expressions I want and probably need?

8. Do I ask for what I want in a loving tone of voice and with a loving look on my face?

9. Do I discuss my wants with manipulative terms like “I need …”, “You never give me…”, “I never have enough…”, “It’s not fair that…”, “Why don’t you ever…”, and so forth?

10. Do I ask for what I want like a demanding parent, a begging child, or an OK, equal adult?

The 7 Major Elements of Asking for What You Want with Love Here are the major elements of making a healthy, loving request.  I suggest you study them closely and practice them a lot.  I also suggest you help your loved ones learn them and practice them on you.

1. Ask for what you want behaviorally like “I want a hug” which is a clear, behavioral request as opposed to “I could use some affection” which is not nearly specific enough.  “I want us to go dancing” is behaviorally good while “It would be nice if we did something fun” is okay for a start but inadequate without specific behaviors added because it is open to too many different interpretations and misinterpretations.

2. Ask for what you want with loving tones of voice, loving facial expressions and loving touches if possible.  Sounding or looking angry, sad, fearful, weak, domineering, blasé, bored, arrogant, dictatorial, superficial, uncaring, etc. tends to sabotage the request and the love relationship.

3. Ask with a time range included.  Here’s an example, “I’d like us to go to the movies Friday at about 7 P.M. and plan to get home by 11 P.M., if that works for you”.  Statements like, “How about we go someplace, or do something, sometime, OK?” can only be good if they lead into specific requested behaviors that cover what exactly, where exactly and when exactly might the desired behavior occur.

4. Be lovingly willing to trade, negotiate, synthesize, compromise, etc..  She happily said, “I will go see that adventure movie you want to see Saturday night, if you go with me to see my ‘chick flick’ Sunday after lunch.”  He said, “You want the sea shore and I want the mountains.  Let’s start looking for vacation places that have both close to each other.”

5. Ask the difficult to ask questions.  She said, “I’m a little embarrassed to say this out loud but the truth is I want us to make tender, sweet, sexy love this Sunday afternoon, and then wild, naughty, dirty sex Wednesday night after the kids are gone.  What do you think and feel about what I’m asking and the way I’m asking it?”  He bravely said, “I’m ashamed to admit it but I’m feeling really insecure and I’m asking you to reassure me that you love me and that I’m your number one love and there is no number two – if that’s true?”

6. Be lovingly willing to hear “no”, “not yet”, “I’m not ready”, etc. and to negotiate lovingly from there.  Unless you are lovingly willing to accept those kind of answers you’re not requesting – you are demanding.  There are no punishments or retaliations for loving requests which are denied or postponed in a healthy, loving relationship.  There, however, can be a little show of disappointment and that might receive a little sympathy.

7. Lovingly ask often and much.  The more you don’t ask for what you want the more you are keeping a loved one in the dark, the more you are setting yourself up for disappointment and setting your relationship up for dysfunction.

Healthy love-based requests, of course, tend to be loving but also, well-timed, accurate, assertive, sufficient, behaviorally clear and democratic in nature.  Much research shows that the happiest and most successful love relationships contain people doing a good job of asking for what they want along with really hearing what their loved ones want.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Did you grow up in a situation that perhaps subconsciously programmed you to be more comfortable, or more uncomfortable with people lovingly asking for what they wanted and hearing what others wanted?

What Makes Love Last?

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson first discusses love maintenance and its importance; then touches on male and female false training; followed by a list of a dozen “Lasting Love Factors”; and ends with how those factors might be achieved in your love life.

Love Maintenance

Once you fall in love the rest is automatic, isn’t it?

You will magically live happily ever after once you have found your one true love, isn’t that right?  Once you both make a commitment, get married, etc. you’re in a state of relationship security and the rest is mostly easy -correct?  Of course, intellectually you know these statements may not be true and you might have to do some hard work to keep a love relationship going and not lose it.  Subconsciously, however, you may be programmed to believe in and depend on some very false myths about love and what it takes to succeed as a couple.  No one ever told you a story in which Prince and Princess Charming had to go to marriage counseling to keep their love alive and progressing.

The truth is love relationships take a lot of maintenance work, just like everything else of major and lasting importance.  About love and marriage, a super-rich real estate developer once said, “If you have to work at it (love) something is wrong.”   He went on to explain that if something was wrong with it you might as well get rid of it and start over, which is what he did – marriage after marriage after marriage after marriage.

Almost everybody wants their major love relationship to be lasting.  Unfortunately not much is done to teach people they must do the maintenance work and the improvement work that makes a love relationship last.  We certainly can’t rely on lasting love being magically automatic.

Male and Female False Training

Many a man has been trained to think ‘love work’ is ‘women’s work’.  That’s a prescription for a heartbreaking breakup.  Many a woman and also a lot of males have been subconsciously programmed to think “if he or she loves me they will know what to do, and do it”.  That too is a prescription for a lot of heart ache and an eventual, big, love failure.  Both people in a couples, healthy, real, love relationship will have to work at it, and they’ll have to do that labor in good team work to make it last.

A Dozen “Lasting Love” Factors

1.    There has to be healthy, real love and not sick, false forms of love.

2.    Love repeatedly has to be shown through behaviors to demonstrate, deliver and trigger feeling loved.

3.    Power is democratically shared.

4.    High appreciation and respect are mutual and commonly communicated.

5.    The relationship supports the growth of healthy self-love in both partners.

6.    Both partners repeatedly enjoy each other.

7.    Truth prevails and deception is absent.

8.    Emotions are shared and empathetically treated when shared.

9.    Problems are treated in an ‘I win, You win, Nobody loses and, therefore, We win together’ approach resulting in an ‘It’s us against the problems’ teamwork and not an ‘Us against each other’ style.

10.    The major kinds of behavior that tend to destroy love relationships are absent.

11.    There is high valuing of the love relationship and the love partner and both are frequently and sincerely expressed.

12.    There is a consistent working on the relationship for both growing, improvement and repair when needed, and never taking the relationship or the loved partner for granted or undervaluing either.

Achieving The Above

You can learn and do a lot about all of the above 12 factors.  Also you can do what it takes to make these 12 factors a description of your couple’s love relationship and make it deeply joyous, inspiring, energizing and a lot of simple fun.  Not to work in teamwork with one another to achieve the above 12 factors in your couple’s life could be destructive and dangerous to the health and well-being of your love.  At this website you can find mini-love-lessons to assist you in achieving each of the above 12 factors.  Books, other websites, workshops, seminars, retreats, relationship coaching and counseling, and couples therapy also exist to assist you.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Which of the above 12 factors gives you the most trouble, grabs your attention or puzzles you the most, and why do you suppose that is?

Living Well via Loving Well

Synopsis: About your tree of life; love well to live well in every way; a few important definitions; why love research is hard to research; different kinds of love give different results; and a love prescription for nourishing your tree of life.

How Is Your Tree of Life Growing?

Let’s say you have a tree of life on which grow many fruits.  There are the fruits of your labors, the fruits of your learning, the fruits of your relationships, the fruits of your very nature, the fruits of your appreciations, your fun and your joys, and all the other fruits of your involvements and of your being.

As you partake of the fruits of your tree of life your spirit is nourished.  But there is a question.  What nourishes your tree of life?

Consider this.  Healthy, real love nourishes your tree of life like nothing else.  Abundantly given and received, healthy real love is the most important of all things that bring forth life’s high order thriving.  Arguably, all of life’s ever increasing, enriching variety and all of life’s most important enhancements and improvements have been and are love related and love nourished in one way or another.  As sundry philosophies and religions have purported love is for life the greatest of all things.  Therefore, it follows that love may be for you and those you care about the most important of all things.  So, are you giving love due regard?

Love Well to Live Well in Every Way

The better you are at love the better you function, the healthier and happier your life is, and the longer you are likely to live.  Love poorly and you live less well functioning, less happy, less healthy and less long.  That is what a growing preponderance of worldwide research from a wide variety of fields is telling us.  Mounting evidence shows that people who are in well-loving couples relationships, families, friendship networks and love-oriented communities live the best lives, by every way of measuring quality of life.

A Few Important Definitions

Love, or more accurately – healthy, real love –  as used here is simply defined thus:
Healthy, Real Love Is a Powerful, Vital, Natural, Process of Highly Valuing, Desiring for, Often Acting for, and Taking Pleasure in the Well Being of the Loved (see the column at the left of this page  “Definition of Love Series” for further and more full definitions and discussions).

Love can be viewed as a biological reality having largely to do with the brain’s limbic system and various neurochemical, and biochemical, and perhaps neuro-electrical phenomena in at least higher order species.  Love also can be viewed as a psychological reality having to do with the thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with love.  This especially involves the eight groups of behavior which have been found to convey love and trigger different, healthy, neurological and biological processes in both the giving and receiving of love (see the entry “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love).
Love can be seen as a relational reality because it is in relationships that love’s biological and psychological phenomena occur, as has been found by various individually focused and socially oriented scientific research disciplines.

Loving well is defined as consistently acting toward others and toward yourself in all matters of high value in ways consistent with the eight groups of direct, love behaviors known to convey, receive and trigger bio-psycho-social love reactions.  Loving well can be described as consistently practicing and developing one’s love skills until, more often than not, one is successful at love efforts, love relationships and love thriving.

Why Love Research Is Hard to Research

With some disappointment we must note that the word love often is avoided by some but not all researchers.  This seems to be because “love” is used as a synonym for sex, and perhaps because of its often confusing, contradictory and sometimes pathological use in poetic and romantic literature.  Researchers who try to avoid the use of the word love often use substitutes like “affectionate attachment”, “warm positive regard”, “intimate personal ties”, “close-knit connection”, “emotionally bonded relationship” and a host of similar terms, all of which might easily be translated as “love” by learned readers.  Interestingly researchers in the older, more established disciplines don’t seem to mind using the word love at all.  The word and the topic love show up in the professional literature of the several neurosciences, medicine, biology, primatology, experimental psychology and even in economics.

It seems only in the newer social sciences and the helper-fields (like the several forms of counseling) that there appears to be a squeamishness about using the word love.  This avoidance of the word love and the resulting plethora of substitute terms does make it considerably harder to look up research results related to love.  Nevertheless, with some prodigious effort it can be done.  So, here are a few of the overall trends from that research.

Different Kinds of Love Give Different Kinds of Benefit

Committed-couple love relationships have been found to help people avoid disease, have a general higher level of overall health, and assist people in dealing more successfully with most of life’s difficulties.  In some studies “marrieds” do a little better than co-habitating couples, but with other factors the reverse is true.  Co-habiting couples have been found to have better, all-over, psychological well-being than do the legally married and those living single without a committed relationship.  However, “marrieds” have been measured as having somewhat better physical health.

Men tend to be a bit healthier in marriages but women in cohabitation, according to some studies.
The one, big drawback to couple’s love occurs when one of the couple dies.  The surviving partner is more likely to fall ill and die within a two-year period of the loss unless friends, family, altruistic causes and/or unless another romantic love comes strongly into their life during that time.

Families in a number of nations who frequently act to love well often produce far happier, healthier people who are better able to cope with stress and, therefore, don’t tend to suffer from stress-related illnesses nearly as much as the less loving.

Friendship love which occurs in close-knit, interpersonal networks produces considerably lower mortality rates at all age levels in international comparisons studies.  With friendship love there is a much reduced likelihood of self-destructive behavior, fewer heart attacks, less cancer, less arthritis, fewer gastrointestinal upsets, fewer skin problems, fewer headaches and fewer complications from pregnancy.

Humanitarian and altruistic love also produce excellent health and longevity results, as does living in love-oriented communities.  The evidence suggests all of these love sources act as a protective shield against toxic and stressful environments.  A lowering of bad cholesterol and a raising of immunity functioning especially is common with those who love altruistically.  Much lower use of mood affecting drugs, legal and illegal, is another result according to various researchers.

Spiritual love and well loving people active in spiritually-based communities have been shown to have healthier behaviors, less substance abuse and healthy sleep and appetite habits.  This seems to hold true for people from ‘Austria to Australia’ and across all major ethnic and religious groups.
The well loving who also are quite sexually loving measure as happier, more vitally alive, more productive and more creative.

Healthy, real self-love is a very important factor in living well.  Some hold that it is the single most important type of love for having a happy, healthy, long life because it is viewed as central for excelling at all other types of healthy, real love.

A Love Prescription for Nourishing Your Tree of Life

Living by way of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of healthy, real love has been found to be more important to happy, healthy living than a good diet, exercise, low stress environments, education, wealth, ethnicity and a host of other similar factors – not that these factors are unimportant.  So, if you desire the good life get into love every way you can.  To do this I suggest you study this site’s love’s definition and its major functions, and also take a look at the various forms of false love along with the different kinds of love, and everything else you can discover about what love really means and how it’s done.

Especially learn and practice the behaviors of love and the skills of love.  Learn to give love, think love, feel the many emotions and physical sensations of love, and learn to receive love well.  To do all that obviously is what this site is all about, so you might want to visit it often, and tell friends family, and maybe even enemies about it.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question What will your life be like if you devote a fair amount of time and energy to learning and practicing healthy, real love – and what will it be like if you don’t?

Friendship Love And Its Extraordinary Importance

Synopsis: The many marvels of friendship love, an example of widely varying emphases on friendship love and its vast importance, friendship love in good and bad times, and evaluating what friendship love may do for your life are given here.

Friendship love may have saved more lives than any other kind of love!  Friendship love may help people through hard times as much as any other type of love!  Friendship love is often the longest lasting type of love in many people’s lives.  For lots of people friendship love has been the most reliable kind of love in their lives.

Friendship love can be the type of love that has the least complications, hassles and problems.  In the lives of no small number of people it is friendship love that has been the deepest and most profound type of love they have experienced.  So, Dear Reader, I urge you to consider the role of friendship love in your life and its potential in your future.

“Shocked!  That’s what I am, totally and completely shocked!  Trevor and I were going to be married next month and now it’s over, all because I told him he would have to say goodbye to his friends who are single after we are married.  He told me he loved me dearly but to him his deep love with his friends had done him more good than any other kind of love, and he was not about to give up any true friend for the uncertainty of a marriage.  He told me that where he came from friendships were for life while marriages may or may not last, and he thought that anyone who would ask him to give up his true friends couldn’t really love him, and with that he broke off our engagement”.

Teresa who was reporting this had grown up in an American social sphere in which marriage and romantic love were seen as far more important than friendship love.  Trevor on the other hand has been raised in a sphere of European society that emphasized the great importance of life-long, abiding, solid, friend relationships based in real, unending love.  For Trevor and people raised in that social sphere the end of a profound friendship was the cause for far deeper grief than the end of a marriage or even a love-filled romance.  Also in Trevor’s world to use the word “friend” had profound significance while in Teresa’s it was used often in a light and not all that meaningful way.

Mild and very recent acquaintances were sometimes referred to as friends in Teresa’s world but that would never happen in Trevor’s.  Thus, you can see that in different parts of the world and in different social spheres friendship love is given very different levels of importance.  With some “friend” implies the existence of a true, deep, love relationship of great value.  With others “friend” refers to a much more shallow and inconsequential, often temporary relationship in which there is nothing even approaching true, deep love.

Here a deep and true friend is someone with whom you have developed a healthy, real love.  A true friend basically can be a person as close and important to you as a dearly beloved sister, or brother, or other close family member.  Deep and abiding, love-filled, true friendships can make people “family” in the best meaning of that word.  In fact friendship love is as important and sometimes even more important than family love in the lives of many.  It is often friendship love that prevails when all other loves have been found wanting.  There are many who say it was the love from a friend that got them through and able to survive a great tragedy, a horrible defeat, or monstrous loss in their lives.

Often it is a true and deeply loving friend who will tell you the uncomfortable to hear truth about yourself when no one else will.  It is friendship love that gets that friend to stand by you as you blunder and struggle with your life, and your flaws and shortcomings.  It is friendship love that motivates a friend not to give up on you even when you are being absurdly wrong, stupid and self-defeating.  Friendship love for many people is the only love that sustains and protects them through disasters and the bleak times of desolation.

In good times it is friendship love that can provide free flowing companionship, egalitarian compatibility, shared fun, delightful comradeship and someone to share victory celebrations with.  In those times which are ordinary and mundane friendship love can bring easy going relaxation, anti-lonely connection and sweet, pleasant acceptance.

How are you doing at true, deep, abiding, friendship love?  Have you given true friendship and friendship love enough thought?  Enough effort?  Enough importance?  Do you have some ideas of what you might do if you were going to go after more and greater friendship love in your life?  Are you aware that friendship of the deep and love-filled type may greatly enrich your life, open your life to new horizons, cause your life to be lived at a higher plain, and perhaps even save your life?

There’s lots more to consider when thinking about real, friendship love.  I like to ask people to look at the possible future importance of real, friendship love in their lives before getting into a lot of the “how-to’s” of growing friendship love.  If you’re going to really succeed at love broadly friendship love probably has to be one of the things you give a real good look at.

One more thing about this important kind of love.  It is of great importance for you To Be a truly loving friend.  Some people want more and better loving friends but don’t give much attention to being one.  To help you think about this you might want to check out  “The Definitions of Love” in the column on the left of this page, and in particular “The Behavioral Definition of Love” entry.

As always, Grow and Go in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you think of a past acquaintance, or friend, or lover you would like to reconnect with and see if you might be able to grow toward a true, friendship-type, love relationship with that person?  If so, what might you do about that?

Previous Comments:
  1. Vicky Kadam
    October 2nd, 2017 at 07:05 | #1

  2. Miranda Bond
    November 28th, 2017 at 23:27 | #2

    I experienced such deep sorrow after a girlfriend cut me off after a 40 year friendship. It took me about 5 years to recover from the hurt. We had been friends since I was 10 and in our mid life she accused me of having an affair with her husband. I tried so hard to make her see she was being paranoid but to no avail. I can honestly say the hurt that the breakdown of this friendship caused me was indescribable . Worse than a broken heart from a romantic split. Female friendships are the glue that keep women sane through life’s ups and downs.