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Do You Love with Laughter?

Do you know you can love someone by helping them laugh?  You also can love them by laughing with them (not at them).  Laughing together helps the love connecting process grow stronger.  Smiling, saying something funny, witty, humorous, etc. is a real plus for all sorts of love relationships.

This especially applies to friendship love, parent/child love, mate love, and comrade love, plus it is very likely to be constructive in a good many other types of love relationships.

Loving with laughter sometimes is especially good for helping people under stress ‘lighten their load’, panicked people ‘get a grip’, and angry people not take things so seriously.  Loving with laughter can give needed relief by assisting people be, at least temporarily, distracted from physical and emotional pain, fear, anxiety, other bad feelings, and also from life’s problems and difficult situations.  A good loving ‘laughter break’ often helps people approach a difficulty from a new and better angle seeing solutions they were blinded to previously.

Not only does loving with laughter help your loved one but it helps you too.  Besides creating a positive, happy environment for both of you, hearty laughter releases healthy, feel good, beneficial chemicals in your body.  The bio-sciences have produced many reports indicating laughter can reduce stress, promote relaxation and strengthen our immune system.  So, do yourself a favor and laugh with your loved ones often.

Loving with laughter is especially helpful in romantic and mate type love development.  It helps lovers reduce tension, feel more at ease, feel more connected, sometimes be more self disclosing and want to be around each other more.  It is no wonder that the most common thing women say that attracted them to a lover was “He made me laugh”.  A human love relationship without laughter can be too heavy, too serious and too draining.

There are a couple of things to be careful about.  One is ‘put down’ humor.  Putdown humor occurs when the humor depends on someone being demeaned, criticized, the butt of a joke, etc..  It may work in some friendships but it is seldom a plus in mate or romantic type love.  Put down humor can grow especially toxic when the putdowns are being aimed at the one you love.  Frequently the person being put down comes to feel degraded and disrespected instead of enjoyed.  The trick is to not ‘make fun of’ but rather have fun with those you love.  Whenever you help a loved one feel like they are being made fun of, secret or subconscious resentments tend to grow, a fight or even a breakup may ensue.

No matter how funny you may think demeaning humor, clever putdowns, critical joking, and discounting satire are they all can be quite detrimental to a love relationship. This can be true no matter who or what the target of the negative humor is.  Humor that depends on any form of prejudice also may be quite destructive to a love relationship.  Another thing to watch out for is too much laughing at yourself.  Self-effacing humor, even though it causes laughter, may subtly teach another person to think more poorly of you.

Cruelty-based or dependent laughter of any kind promotes cruelty which may eventually be turned on everyone and anyone in a relationship network.  Also to be avoided in doing healthy real love is falsely laughing at someone else’s jokes, witticism, satire, etc..  Falsely laughing practices and promotes being deceptive, giving false information about what you like or find funny, and it reinforces the increase of a behavior you don’t want to see more of.

The best love laughter probably occurs with positive surprises.  An unexpected compliment, the unusual rewarding event, and the unforeseen affirming action are examples.  Consider a surprise birthday party, an affirmation-filled singing message, the discovered upbeat love note, flowers for no special occasion or a puppy gift.  All are likely to produce smiles and laughter in a way that also can convey and promote healthy real love.  Strange and odd ways of seeing things, saying things and doing things can provide not only laughter but an intimate sharing of one’s unique special self.  That is almost always good for growing a close, endearing love relationship.

Also important is being silly together.  Lighthearted, shared, silly actions, words, looks, gestures, etc. all can be super constructive in many kinds of love relating.  This can be doubly important in sexual love.  Silly sex is one of the best types of sex according to many couples.  The fun-filled, naked pillow fight, the giggle-filled secret sex in a public place, and the laughter inducing wearing of absurdly sexy attire are examples.  Lovingly laughing together at sexually involved awkward moments, clumsy maneuvers, botched attempts, and fizzled finesse, along with larger sexual misadventures is often crucial.

Shared loving laughter can help you not to get stuck, stopped or in a rut concerning sex.  Laughing together can make even upsetting sex-related misdeeds, indiscretions and disasters into  precious, funny, shared love memories such as “Remember the time we set the pillow on fire”, “the minister arrived at our house unexpectedly and we had to scramble for our clothes”, and “how Auntie Matilda responded to the elephant’s erection”.

Loving smiles and laughter also can come from using precious, funny, little nicknames: Diddlesitlittle, Poofuddle , Sugams, and Dimpleduster to name a few I’ve heard.  Using special oddball terms for the ordinary like “At their house lovers eat dinnuch at 4:30 P.M.” helps with laughter and closeness.  Giving loved ones a loving wink, nudge, thumbs-up gesture, V for victory salute, etc. all done with little laughs and smiles are also precious.

Laughing while talking with sexy innuendos for example “Do you want some”, “Last night did you get some”, “Are you going to give him (or her), or both some tonight”, “Give me some right now and I’ll make sure you get some right along with mine” ad infinitum.  This shared  sexiness with a little fun helps many love relationships to be intimate and special.  Best of all can be simple laughter itself, for no other reason than just being happy in love.

So, I want you to ask yourself, “How are you doing at loving with laughter?”

As always –grow in love! And laugh often.

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Image credits: “heart faces background” by Flickr user jelene (Jelene Morris).

Want New and Better Love in the Next Year?

Mini-Love-Lesson  #262

Synopsis: Love can be felt and love can be done. This mini-love-lesson focuses on the getting it done part, and doing love ever better in spite of some dangers.  There is a simple, quick love rating scale to help you evaluate where you are in your love relating world; followed by how to analyze its results and use them for growing ever better love in the coming year, no matter how good or bad love was for you last year.

Ever Better Love

Love is one of those things that always can be done even better than it was before, no matter how good it was – or wasn’t.  Love feelings come naturally but doing love takes active participation in the doing part. That, of course, takes figuring out and learning what to do.  This means, if you want your next year of love relating to go better than the last, you probably will have to  do some learning and thinking about doing love.  This mini-love-lesson is aimed at helping you do just that.  It begins with a simple evaluation exercise to help you see where you might want to focus your improvement efforts.

Caution – Danger – Don’t Do’s

Let’s look at something you may be non-consciously programmed to do which many of us relationship researchers, coaches, counselors and therapists tend to see as common and, more often than not, destructive and frequently even disastrous.  It has to do with trying to do love with only part of yourself instead of with your whole self.  We tend to succeed at love better when all our major parts get involved.  One part many are subconsciously programmed to leave out is our conscious thinking self.  This kind of program may read something like this.

“For doing love you can only rely on your intuition and your love luck.  After all, love is done by unknowable magic, or maybe done by how your parents treated you when you were an infant and, in any case, you can’t do anything about either, so don’t try.  In fact, trying gets in the way.  You only can hope and maybe pray.  Otherwise, how you do love and love relating only can be carried out by your intuitive impulses, governed by your luck at love.”

Your personal program may read rather differently or similarly to that.  However, if it is in any way like that, know that it is antithetical to the knowledge and teachings of a great many of our time-honored sages, wisdom masters and spiritual leaders of old, plus it is in opposition to a lot of recent research, all of whom have a lot to say about how to do love and do it well.

Quick Rate Your Love Relationships

First, look over the following list of a dozen forms of love relationship and pick out the ones you want to give a rating to then give them a check mark.  Next using a scale of 0 to 10 (zero meaning the worst and 10 meaning the best) quickly rate how well you estimate you are doing at love relating in each those relationships you have checked.  Don’t over think any of them.  You can do that later if you wish.  Just use a quick first impression approach.

Forms of Love Relating to Rate. (Using 0 – 10 or NA for not applicable)
1. Pet love ____, 2. Friendship love ____, 3. Family love ____, 4. Love of children ____,
5. Love of Parent Figures ____, 6. Love of special heartmate (spouse etc.) ____,
7. Healthy Real Level of Self ____, 8. Spiritual Love ____, 9. Love of Life ____,
10. Love of others, people, etc. _____, 11. Love of nature _____,
12. love of a special cause, endeavor, involvement, group or population ____.

Evaluation and Analysis

Now, examine your highest ratings and ask yourself how might you do even better in those higher rated, important areas?  Maybe make some notes or start a file.  Then, examine your low scores asking yourself if you really want to make any improvements in those lower scored relationships?  If so, you might circle them.  Now, look closely at the middle-range-ratings asking yourself if those relationship areas might merit further focus and exploration?  Finally, look at the forms of love relating you did not rate asking yourself what you might want to do so that you could easily and quickly have a rate to give in those areas?

Now you can choose to go back and give longer, more full thought to any of the forms of love relating you might want to examine more deeply how you think and feel about them – or not.  Again, maybe making some notes?  I recommend you also give yourself an overall, not too critical or praising, tentative, general analysis statement about what this is telling you about you and your world of love relationships.  Put that into exact words, as best you can, and keep it wherever you might want to.  Then take it out tomorrow and review it again adding or subtracting from it, and do it again in a week.

Improvement Usage

Now, I suggest you start toward making your plans for love improvements in the next year.  This is sort of like making New Year’s Resolutions.  To make them work, you probably have to check up on doing them in some regular way, like once a week, once a month, every six weeks, etc. using a calendar and/or reminder system.

Making a doing love better plan is usually best done with specifics like who or what is exactly the target of your efforts, what exact behaviors will you do (give a particular compliment, kiss, hug, favor, dozen smiles, an hour of undivided attention, take to a movie they want to see, etc., etc. etc.).  Also specifics  on what day and time will this action be taken, when and how you will record and evaluate afterwards and plan a next action.  You can include generalities like I will be kinder, happier toward them, attentive, affirmative, etc. but unless you add more behaviorally specific actions, it is not likely much actually will happen often enough.

If your love improvement plan also includes things you want not to do like stop getting mad so easily, talk over others when they are talking, immediately bringing up problems and negative issues when first encountering loved ones, etc. that is half a success-oriented plan.  It also is important to add what you will do instead of the action you wish to stop or limit.  Without the instead action, old action habits tend to prevail.

Now for New Learning

To do new and better thinking about anything, usually requires new and hopefully enjoyable learning.  Here is my suggestion for that.  At this site, go to the two indexes of the mini-love-lessons.  In the Title Index, scan down the titles once a week, on the same day of the week, preferably for the next 52 weeks.  Every time you do this, pick a title that gets your attention for whatever reason and read it, think about it, make a note or two about it and see if there is a way to use it for doing love better love in your next week.  After you have some notes written, review some of them each time you write new notes  When you miss a week, do two the next week.


Using the Subject Index, find a Large Topic Area that for whatever reason seems to interest you a bit more than the others.  Then scan the mini-love-lesson titles listed in that topic area and once a week read one of them, following the same instructions as above.  Do this until you want to change to another Large Topic Area.  Then do so.  Keep doing this until you have read, thought about and made some notes, plus reviewed some of your past notes hopefully for 52 weeks.  Each time you do this, record or draw a :-) on your calendar or on your way of keeping your record of love actions taken.

By doing this, you very likely will teach yourself how to make your ways of love relating and doing love better, and better, plus making it a habit to do love actions more regularly.

One More Thing

Discussing what you have just read with others tends to help you more diversely expand and develop your thinking about what you have read, plus it often leads to other stimulating topics.  That is thought to be because discussing ideas uses different and additional parts of your brain than does thinking silently by yourself – which does have its own advantages.  If you do discuss this mini-love-lesson with others, please mention this site and its many love lessons aimed at helping all people to love more and better.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: If knowledge is power as they say, won’t new love knowledge empower you to do love more and better love as long as you keep acquiring new love knowledge?

Does Giving Love, Get Love?

 Mini-Love-Lesson  # 270

Synopsis:  This mini-love-lesson answers the title question in the affirmative; gives a number of caveats and complications; explains giving love; reviews a much missed love truth; and reviews when giving love does and does not get love in return.

The Answer

The Answer to the title question is mostly yes with some highly important caveats and complications.

The good news is there are abundant examples of a loving person giving lots of love to another person and, in time, love starting to flow back to the original giver.  It happens with lovers, stepchildren, friendships, marriages, comrades, acquaintances and every other kind of relationship which has reciprocal love potential.  The more often and the more well you act to send someone love the more it increases the likelihood, but not the certainty, they will return love to you.

Caveats and Complications

Not giving love very often or very well is a good way to not get it, or not to keep getting love once you have it.  Giving indifference and/or love destructive actions more than you give healthy, real love can block the love flowing your way.  Love might be starting to grow in someone’s heart but the showing of love can get turned off for sundry, self-protective reasons.

Trying to give love on purpose just to get it, does not seem to work very well probably because the love given is not likely to be genuine, healthy, real love.  Fake love tends to fall apart after a time.  Likewise, acting from one of the false love syndromes tends to fail unless real love can replace it (see Real Love False Love).

Giving even genuine love to very unloving people tends to work poorly, at best.  Attempting to love those people who put a very low value on love or those who value other things much more highly than love (like money, status, power etc.) regrettably is very problematic.

Trying to love active substance and behavioral addicts (with addictions like gambling, sex, relational dependency, etc.) can be torturous and sometimes dangerous.  With help (Twelve-Step programs and couples & family counseling) it can be done successfully but mostly only when the addict is getting appropriate help (AA, NA, etc.) (see Recovering Love).

Usually worst of all is trying to love a psychopath or a sociopath because they can be quite good at faking love for a time.  Brain studies suggest they may be suffering from malfunctioning, neurological abnormalities making healthy, real love an impossibility.

Lacking sufficient healthy self-love can sabotage getting love from others.  Not having adequate healthy, real self-love tends to limit trusting that one is loved when it comes, as well as limit trusting that one’s ways of giving love are really wanted or are of sufficient quality (see “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”).

Love works best as a free gift.  When love is unconditionally given without regard to what can be gotten in return, love can flow most freely.  It is a bit of a paradox that doing free-gift-love is one of the most likely ways to get a lot of love in return.  It seems like it should be quite evident that people want to love loving people.  So, if you already are not a loving well person, you might want to become one.

These are but some of the caveats and complications encountered with getting love by giving love.

What Does Love Giving Love Actually Mean?

It is not enough to just feel love.  Love has to be done, sent or given for it to have any effect.  How well love is done, sent or given is of great significance to the success, or failure, of love relationships.  Put simply, love is given by doing the actions or behaviors that convey love, show love and demonstrate love (see “Getting Healthy Real Love in Your Life”).  Without love conveying actions, most of the many wonders and marvels of love go unrealized.  So do most desires for love relating.  Sadly, a lot of people under-do their actions showing love and, consequently, they miss-out on the full potential of love relating.  It is by the frequent and well-carried-out acts of love that love grows, spreads, becomes strong and is hugely enriching.

A Much Missed, Fundamental Love Truth

Feeling love is natural.  Doing love is learned.  Is it not reasonable to think that those who learn and practice the how-to’s of doing love well, tend to be the ones who get the most and best love.  There slowly is growing, research evidence suggesting the better and more skillfully one can give love, the more one is likely to be the recipient of excellent and abundant, healthy, real love.

Love sometimes is attempted as a trade, or a quid pro quo, or even as a manipulation.  Those attempts have very limited or lasting success.  The more love can be done as a well-crafted, free gift, the more powerful it is likely to be and the better the results are likely to be over time.

Long-lasting, happy love especially is dependent on love being done well.  Doing love well comes from learning to do love well and not relying on love feelings alone.  Ovid, the great Roman poet in the year 1, taught “for love to be lasting, it must be done skillfully”.  It also helps for love to be given frequently and much.

When Giving Love Does and Doesn’t, Get Love

Arguably, many, perhaps most, failures at love relating are not because people did not feel love for one another but because love was not given and done often enough and/or well enough.  Of course, another reason has to do with the various syndromes of false love.  Likewise, most great, love relating successes happen not just because the participants feel great love but because the participants learn to do love often and well, together in teamwork.  Great love relationships are a teamwork endeavor requiring learning and practice at giving and receiving in a coordinated, conjoint, cycling of love behaviors.

It is important to note that it is not really learned until it is practiced.  Performing love is much like the performance arts and sports (see “Love Is a Performance Art”).  It takes ongoing learning and practicing love-conveying actions and the knowledge of the do’s and don’ts of love.  To learn we must study, then jointly apply what’s learned, jointly practice, jointly evaluate, jointly work to improve and then study some more.  Love feelings just get you started.

One More Thing
Teaching and talking is a great help to learning.  So, who are you going to talk to about what you’ve just read?  Whoever it is, please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons on the how-to’s of love.  Thanks!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Are you making learning about love fun, if not please do.

Listening With Love and IN and OUT Brain Functions

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson presents a super common, communication, love problem; and then goes on to explain how the OUT part of the process works; vent assistance and interference; how the IN part works; and some of what to do and not to do.

A Super Common, Communication, Love Problem

See if you can figure out what these common questions have to do with each other.  “Why do I feel shut down when my lover wants to fix my problem instead of listening to me?”  “How come it helps me more to vent to a person who shows care than to just vent and blow off steam when I’m alone?”  “Since venting, even with someone who shows love, doesn’t really change anything or solve any problems why do so many people want to do it?”  “How is it that just about every time I try to advise or analyze my lover’s problems it starts an argument and we both end up feeling bad?”

Couples, parents with upset children, family members, friends and others in love relationships of one type or another very frequently get into dysfunctionality in ways that lead to these types of questions.  Often worsening feelings, emotional distancing, estrangement and even breakups occur because people don’t understand the In and Out brain process involved.  With that understanding all this trouble usually can be avoided.

How the “Out” Part of the Process Works

One person starts talking about a difficulty or bad experience they’ve had, and as they do they begin to vent their bad feelings.  The bad or negative emotions they have experienced are, in essence, stored up inside them causing increased muscular tension, strained ligaments and tendons, digestive fluid imbalance, blood pressure difficulty, stress hormone production and a number of brain chemistry imbalances, along with various unhealthy malfunctions, all of which they are not consciously aware of.

Several forms of toxicity are occurring in several biological systems, and will continue unless a venting process is engaged in.  Expulsive and cathartic talking with a fair amount of well demonstrated, unhappy emotions being expressed through tone of voice, facial expression, posture and movements, along with certain kinds of verbiage like complaining, cussing, blaming, griping and generally bemoaning, etc. start and facilitate the venting process.

The venting process then releases, relaxes, relieves, reverses and re-balances the neurochemical and biological, unhealthy processes mentioned above.  When that occurs we feel better, or at least much less bad, because we are neurobiologically better after venting than before venting.  So long as nothing destructive occurs while venting, it is a healthful process.

It is the limbic system of our brain that primarily processes our emotions.  Venting is an appropriate word neurobiologically.  That’s because it is thought that our limbic system operates in a way to trigger the removal of the toxicity and harmful hormones which occur with bad feelings, and assists sending them on to our waste removal system when we are venting.  As we get clear of the toxicity and harmful neurochemistry our brain chemistry re-balances and begins to function better.
Consequently, we feel better and after some recovery we think better.

Vent Assistance and Interference

My very Irish uncle once said, this is what the elves taught him.  “Presenting your concepts to someone having a crying jag or temper fit is like serving a meal to a vomiting man.  Both will give you results no one wants”.  I think he was right.  Trying to teach, advise, reason, analyze or do anything very cognitive with a strongly venting person usually can be experienced by that person as selfish, inappropriate interference.  Until that person’s neurochemical system has had cathartic release, then cleared, followed by recovery and re-balancing their cognition system may not be ready to operate well.  Thus, their thinking about what you’re trying to tell them just won’t happen, or won’t happen very well.

When someone you love needs to vent it’s usually best to let them vent!  You might say things like, “Go ahead, let it all out”, “Tell me all about it”, “I want to hear all your feelings”, and “My heart and gut are right here with you”.  Things usually not very good to say are, “Don’t cry”, “Stop being mad”,”You’re making too much of this, be reasonable”, “If you would just stop and think it wouldn’t seem so bad”, “I told you that wouldn’t work” or any ‘fix-it’ talk, unless the person venting specifically and maybe repeatedly asks for help with their problem.

Caring statements said in soft, loving tones may do some good, but it’s the tones not the words that usually bring about the benefit.  None of the above ‘fix it’ or ‘teaching’ statements emotionally join with a person, or assist them in venting, and though they may have some immediate benefit to you their longer-range benefits are not so likely.

How The “In” Part Works

If, as a loved one vents their bad feelings, you look at them with caring eyes, you speak to them with loving tones, your facial expression shows earnest caring love, your gestures are open to them, and your posture leans toward them in a friendly manner, then you are helping to pour your healing love into them, replacing the emotional poison pouring out of them.

If you do not contaminate their outpouring by feeding them too many words or concepts, but just show care in these or similar ways you may see your efforts bring about healing and facilitate recovery from what was a toxic event for them.  Adding a few words showing emotional understanding also may help.

In ‘brain functioning terms’ this pretty much is what happens.  Your looks and sounds of love, perhaps coupled with loving touch triggers the wounded loved one’s brain to start making healing, neurochemical compounds that then are carried to many parts of the brain and throughout the body.  Everywhere they go, healing and re-balancing occurs.  Your loved one then may report that your loving listening has made them feel so much better.  You see, emotional poison or toxicity is pouring out and being replaced by healthful neurochemistry which results from receiving behaviors that convey love.

Some of What To Do and Not To Do

If your loved one is hurting, angry, afraid or experiencing any other strong, ‘bad’ feeling, those feelings are being processed in their brain’s limbic system.  To help them you must do things that stimulate the limbic system, more than the prefrontal cortex, cognition (thinking) system.  Loving facial expressions, tones of voice, gestures, friendly posture changes and loving touch can stimulate a person’s limbic system into doing healthful things.  Logic, reason, facts, analysis, etc. will more likely only do good after the limbic system has processed emotions sufficiently.

Softly saying things like “I care” with a loving look usually does far more good than an intellectually, brilliant solution to your loved one’s problem, which might better be said after their emotions are sufficiently and thoroughly expressed.  The emotional wounds first must be in greater repair before that brilliant solution is offered.

Sufficient venting and healing has to occur before your loved one can hear and maybe use a cognitively helpful idea.  Therefore, do love actions first and lots and then if needed do the thinking together.  Know that sometimes the loving listening is enough and the person who was venting will feel like you filled-up their heart’s gas tank, and they will run on that and do the solution part on their own.  Remember, we all must work with our brain’s way of functioning, not against it.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
How good are you at giving active, silent love to a hurting and venting loved one?

Love’s Wrong Definition in Your Head???


Mini-Love-Lesson  #272 

Synopsis:  Explore love in your unconscious; a popular mistaken definition of love that may reside there; deficiency in dictionary definitions of love; what the Rabbi said; feeling love and doing love or not; warnings about attraction, romance and sexual passion; and a definition of love called brilliant by some; along with a bit about love’s five major functions.

Our Unconscious Beliefs About Love

Our culture gets into our head and we do not even know it.  We get subconsciously programmed to do and not do many things, see and understand reality in certain restrictive ways and operate from beliefs we consciously do not know we hold.  We all have non-conscious and semi-conscious biases, prejudices, habit patterns and warped opinionated perceptions.  That is what consciousness raising is all about – raising into conscious awareness, what is going on in our non-conscious minds.  Brain and mind research shows there is quite a lot of that in everybody.  Some very important parts of that non-conscious content has to do with love.

If we are influenced by mistaken, distorted  wrong definitions and understandings about love, they may lead us astray, blind us to other needed truths and even cause us to make hurtful and harmful decisions concerning love.  There is ample evidence that this is how it works with love’s most usual and popular way of being understood.

The Most Popular Wrong Definition of Love

More and more serious researchers and scholars who are looking into the phenomenon of love are arriving at the same conclusion.  Concerning love, we got it wrong!  We commonly teach and push a very distorted, deficient idea about what love is and what it is not.  Not only that, but this mistaken teaching may be leading lots of people into inadequate, defective and destructive ways of love relating.

Different learned thinkers in different fields put this mistake in different ways.  Some simply say this error is in teaching that love is all about feelings and little else.  Others say that love is just an emotion and still others say that we know love when we feel it and that’s all we need to really know about love.  A good many other scholars and researchers emphasize that the problem has to do with what we leave out and what we  need to include in our definitive understanding of love (see “Is There Really a New Field Called Loveology?”).

To understand the major part missing, let’s look at what just one of our modern sages said about love.  He is Rabbi David Wolpe, identified by the Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most important and influential Jews in the world.  He wrote a TIME published, short essay entitled Why Are We Defining Love the Wrong Way?  He, along with a growing number of advanced love scholars, observes our commonly published and pushed definitions of love leaves out a much needed emphasis on the major thing love is really all about.  That is the doing of love.  Rabbi Wolpe holds that love, to be defined accurately, must include love as the enactment of the feelings of lovingness.  Those are thought to include kindness, affection, empathy, caring, compassion, connectedness, nurturing, protectiveness, championing, positive passion and a good number of other constructive, loving emotions.

Brain researchers can add the brain processes of love are those that lead us to feel these emotions and then to behave in ways that are motivated by these positive and constructive feelings.  Psychologists and animal comparative researchers, along with brain scientists, can add scientific support to this action-oriented understanding of love.  Much of their research shows that both the behaviors and corresponding brain chemistry/processes motivate very similar, loving actions in a wide range of higher-order species, including humans.  Thus, love must be at least partially defined as a natural phenomenon.

Dictionary Deficiencies

Dictionary type definitions commonly include statements like “love is an intense feeling of deep affection for another” or“love is an emotion of bonding with another or a desire to bond with another” and “love is a complex integration of emotions comprised of feeling pleasurable sensations in the presence of the love object including sexuality, attachment, dependency, nurturing and companionship” (see Definition of Love Series).

Especially egregious are understandings of love that primarily are sexuality focused and those that include jealousy, possessiveness, motivations for violence and also those that see love as the opposite side of hate.  Those we suggest, along with love as lust, are more appropriately components of various forms of false love or manifestation of deficiencies of healthy self-love.

Feeling Love Without Doing Love

A person may say and truly believe they love or are in love with someone but if their actions are too indifferent, overly selfish, abusive or otherwise harmful and destructive, it probably is not real love according to this action-oriented understanding.

It is true some people are in circumstances where they can do little or nothing for some of those they love.  That does not stop them from wanting to act for the well-being of those they love.  It also often does not stop them from trying.  When circumstances prevent love action from occurring, there usually is a resulting sadness and frustration.  This also can be true for those who have lost loved ones.  This is why it is good for those who can not act on behalf of those they love, to talk to their spirits, pray for them, write them love letters, light candles on their behalf and perform other communicative acts.  Especially helpful can be two chair gestalt therapy, psychodrama or hypnotherapy exercises designed especially for this situation (see “Thinking Love to Improve Love”).

What about Feeling Attraction, Romantic and Sexual Passion?

All of these feelings may and may not have to do with real love occurring.  Sometimes these feelings precede real love developing but they frequently can represent only infatuation, lust, limerence and other forms of false love, etc (see Real Love, False Love). That is one of the reasons that feelings, or emotions only, based definitions of love are inadequate.  Feelings alone are not adequate indicators of real love, no matter how strong they seem.  It is only when the love feelings are accompanied by loving actions, done for the well-being and happiness of the loved, that we can even begin to reasonably think real and healthy love could be in evidence.  Attraction especially is not to be confused with love.  Likewise, falling in love at first sight only occasionally turns into the real thing.  Therefore, it is wise to abide by the ancient statement love is patient and wait for the repeated evidence of love’s actions (see “7 Other Definitions of Real Love Worth Considering”).

Our Definition of Love

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.

Please take special notice of the words powerful (of great strength), vital (life assisting and necessary) and natural (from, of and in nature).

Feelings with Actions

Love is not an emotion but a natural phenomenon in life that for humans is probably brain based and/or to be considered a bio-psycho-social phenomenon which produces loving feelings and motivates loving actions.  These actions tend to be highly positive, beneficial and constructive to and for the loved and to and for the love giver.

Loves Functions

The functional definition of love posits that love can be understood by its functions which are seen to be:
1. To connect us, 2. To safeguard us, 3. To nurture and improve us, 4. To heal us when needed and 5. To reward our actions of love with joy and happiness (see “A Functional Definition Of Love”).

So, if you highly value, desire for, often act for and take pleasure in the well-being of a beloved and you function to connect, safeguard, nurture, act to heal when needed, and enjoy the doing of these actions, for and with those you love, you may be experiencing healthy, real love.

You can learn a lot more about all this by consulting the other, dare I say, fascinating and extremely informative Mini-Love-Lessons concerning love’s definition found at this site (see  “A Dozen Things Love is and A Dozen Things Love is Not”).

One more little thing.  Might you get quite a lot out of discussing with others all that you have just read?  If you do that, please mention this site and its wide-ranging trove of mini-lessons about love.  Much thanks!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: In love relating, if you attend mostly to things having to do with feeling love and not so much to doing love, what will be the result?