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Returning to Touch Love


Mini-Love-Lesson  # 277

Synopsis: The good that loving touch does in our brains; our natural hunger for tactile love; physical and emotional distancing; and mindfully getting ready for when we can do more, safe, love touching after the pandemic are all succinctly and usefully reviewed here.

Touch Love in the Brain

When people with love in their hearts touch each other, skin to skin, almost magical things happen in their brains.  With loving touch, the brain chemical oxytocin starts to flow which greatly facilitates love bonding.  Dopamine and norepinephrine are produced and circulate which significantly helps the loving feel good with one another.  Immunity mechanisms strengthen and dozens of other helpful things begin to happen as our brain continues to process healthful, real love.

Love Touch Hunger

With the pandemic, millions have gone without much touch love and its multitudinous benefits.  In those lands where the pandemic has been well-managed, it is not as bad and it is  getting better.  Elsewhere, not so much yet.  However, there is a worry that in too many places too many people may have become touch shy, avoidant or just habituated to having less loving and friendly touch in their lives.  There are studies that suggest as hunger for affectionate and loving touch goes unmet, people of all ages become more easily agitated, fatigued, anxious, depressed, irritable, uncooperative and more disease susceptible.  As this occurs, love relationships of all types suffer.

Loving Touch in the Soon to Be Future ???

So, after enough people get vaccinated and touch becomes safe again, how well will we return to doing loving and friendly touch with each other?   Also, how much will you and your loved ones lives be benefited or deprived of loving touch’s many contributions?  

Let’s consider hugs.  Are you going to hug more, less or about the same?  How are you going to hug?  Will you be doing full body hugs, A-frame hugs where there is no touch below the waist, country club hugs where there is no touch at all or what?  Will you hug everybody you use to  hug?  How do you want to respond when meeting new people who want to hug you?

What about shaking hands?   Communicable disease experts advise that shaking hands probably would be a habit we could do well without.  Do you want to stick with fist bumps or elbow bumping instead of shaking hands?  How about the old Roman Empire’s mutual, wrist grab and squeeze?

What will you want to do about pats on the back, one arm buddy hugs, snuggling, cuddling, hand holding, back rubs, foot rubbing, spooning, massaging and tap touching?  Then there is how you may come to touch and be touched by children, teens, elders, different genders, workmates, friends and others?  Will you pick up from where you left off before the pandemic or do you want to make some sort of fresh, re-start to friendly and loving touching?

There are indications that all these touch involvements have diminished during the worldwide emphasis on “distancing for safety”.  Along with physical distancing, there is thought to have been an increase in emotional distancing that had best be reversed for the good of everyone’s mental, physical and relational health.  Distancing, regrettably, has contributed to our, research-identified, global problems with loneliness and what some call our wide-spread, love-malnutrition.

Until were safe out in the world, giving and getting lots of loving touch with those you safely live with, probably is a very healthy practice.  That might require an increase in what you and your close-at-hand loved ones are used to.  You might want to talk that over with them.

Touch Love Mindfulness

I suggest it will be advantageous for us all to become a bit more mindful of our post-pandemic touch behaviors and what we want them to be.  Such mindfulness may be especially useful in regard to those we love, those we call friends and those new acquaintances we may want to befriend or we could even come to love.

It is also important to think about getting ourselves love-touched enough.  Additionally, we all may do well to make-up for lost time spent apart or out of touch with our distanced friends, family and other loved ones.  In time, as we reconnect face-to-face, we may want to say things like “How about a big, long hug” or other love-touch initiating remarks.  Until then, we can ready ourselves for when we again can give and get loving touch more freely.  Being a bit more mindful of how we send and receive love via touch, likely will lead to our love relating being improved, enhanced and enriched.

If you want to learn more about love-touch and its wonders, try reading the mini-love-lessons found under Touch in the Subject Index Link of this site.

One More Little Thing.  Are there some people you might like to touch on these subjects with?   You could call, Zoom or Skype with them, if you can not yet get in touch with them face-to-face, and make a joint plan for getting in touch with each other as soon as it safe.  If you do that, please mention this site and its abundance of mini-love-lessons aimed at making the world a bit more love knowledgeable.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  Do you ever give yourself a love hug, or otherwise lovingly touch yourself perhaps while saying some healthy, self-love words to yourself or to certain parts of yourself?

Farmer vs. Mechanic Love Fixing

Synopsis: The clashing and conflict of Farmer Frank versus Michelle the Mechanic, the yea’s and nay’s of our two contradictory approaches, what Michelle did not want to hear and was glad to learn, timeouts, help from the deep inner mind, making choices versus growing solutions, some practical guidelines, and the beautiful interweave of what Frank and Michelle do now.

“Dammit!  Stay here and talk it out with me!  Don’t you dare walk away!  We need to work this out right now, Frank, no matter how long it takes, how upset we get or how tired we get!”  These demands were blasted out by Michelle in loud, angry tones accompanied with ugly looks and defiant gestures.

Frank much more firmly announced “No, I don’t believe that’s true.  We need to take a break, give each other time to calm down and think things through, figure out what we really feel and then work on this problem one little part at a time”.  Who’s right?  Whose approach is better?  Which way of trying to fix a love relationship problem gets the best results, Michelle’s or Frank’s?  And while we’re examining this, think about which of these two ways is more like your usual approach to a love relationship difficulty?

In one way of looking at it there are just two main approaches to fixing love related difficulties.  One is the ‘mechanic’s’ approach and the other is the ‘farmer’s’ approach.  Michelle is using the mechanic’s and Frank the farmer’s.  The mechanic just gets in there and works on the problem until it is fixed, provided he or she has the know-how, the parts and the tools to fix the problem.  The farmer has to work on the problem then back off and let nature do its thing for awhile, then do some more, and then back off again letting Mother Nature do more of her share until the problem is fixed and the goal achieved.  If the farmer digs up the freshly planted seeds to see if there is anything more to be done with them, or to make sure they have started to grow, it’s likely that will destroy the developing roots and stop the growth process.  If the farmer hastens the harvest too soon the crops will be ruined.

The farmer must work with natural processes which require doing some start up actions, backing off, doing some additional tending actions, backing off again and finally harvesting the results.  This is the usual way of working with those things that live and grow or are in need of healing, like crops or people.  The mechanic can take apart and put back together whatever he or she is working on endless times, but for the farmer that could be a very destructive way of going about things.  Some of the farmer’s approach is very mechanic-like and some of it requires leaving nature alone to ‘do its thing’ and being patient.

Here is what Michelle with her mechanic’s approach didn’t want to hear.  Whenever you’re working with things that live the farmer’s approach (with a possible exception) works best.  In fact, it may be the only way many of the difficulties living things experience can be handled successfully.  With inanimate objects the mechanic’s approach works fine.  Perhaps you’re thinking, “What about emergency medicine and surgery; don’t they work by way of the mechanic’s approach”?  No, because after surgery or emergency room procedures the patient is sent to the recovery room where nature’s healing ways take over to do the rest of the job, just like happens on the farm.  The one partial exception is where there is a true emergency and you have to do all you can, as fast as you can.  Even then quite often afterwards there has to be recovery done in the farmer’s or nature’s way.

With the love problems of couples, families, friendships and with self love we usually have to work on the difficulty in the farmer’s fashion.  We have to work on it consciously, and then back off and let our subconscious and other natural health and healing processes work on things without external interruption or too much of our conscious mind’s interference.  Then we can come back and do some more direct, conscious work, and if needed back off again.  That’s why once a week counseling and therapy sessions are the usual frequency standard, whereas ‘intensives’ (extended, uninterrupted therapeutic work lasting many hours, a weekend or a whole week) to work on a relationship or psychological problems are the occasionally useful exception.

Couples and families need to be able to take time out and let everyone’s inner systems process what the conscious mind has taken in.  When facing difficult issues, after a certain amount of direct external work, we need restorative breaks, distraction and relief time, and time to allow our marvelous, deeper mind’s amazing sorting and creative inner systems do their work on our problems.  We need to have time for all our various inner parts or ‘sub-personalities’ to meet with each other and synthesize our often conflicting and uncoordinated thoughts and feelings.  Usually we must do all that internal work to get our best results before we next consciously deal with problems externally.

Another set of problems can arise in our ‘living’ system when we are pressured to use the mechanic’s approach too much or too long.  When we are pressured or rushed, especially at length, our brain begins to make too many stress hormones.  When stress hormones begin to flood our brain and body we tend to grow agitated, irritated, less able to think clearly, we grow angry and more prone to any quick, destructive action which will bring an end to the increasing production of stress hormones. 

Some people are more easily ‘flooded’ than others (which seems to result from how well they were securely loved as children) but everyone can reach their limit.  In addition to that, when we are rushed and pressured into using a mechanic’s approach we are faced with ‘making choices’ instead of ‘growing solutions’.  In love relationships interactively, mutually growing solutions tends to work far better than being forced into quick choice fixes.  This is true in many parts of life but it is especially true in issues of the heart and love relationships.

There are a few practical Guidelines for using the farmer’s approach.  First, agree to use and cooperate with anyone asking for a timeout.  Whenever a timeout is called for schedule how long it’s going to be and when the participants are going to meet next to work on whatever issues are being faced.  Timeouts can be extended if needed but always with a determined time to get back together agreed upon.  Otherwise, dodging the problem for too long or never getting back to it may occur. 

Another guideline is don’t let problem talk invade love or recreation time, and don’t do it late at night or when you’re also trying to handle other stressors.  Pick a start time and an end time to conduct problem talk and stick to that.  With lots of difficulties it’s good for people to ‘sleep on it’ for a night which allows our deep, inner subconscious mind time to ‘do its thing’ which sometimes is quite miraculous.

With some reluctance Michelle conceded the problem she wanted addressed wasn’t a true emergency and so she backed off her mechanic’s approach.  She learned to use Frank’s farmer’s approach more often, then he learned that he could use Michelle’s mechanic’s approach for some of the things they were contending with.  Once in awhile there was a true emergency in their lives and, much more cooperatively, they both went at it like good mechanics can.  They also learned to identify whether a problem they were facing needed a mechanic’s or farmer’s approach and in teamwork they learned to apply that knowledge which eliminated a tremendous amount of conflict they had previously experienced.  Perhaps you can do the same.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Are you more prone to the farmer’s or the mechanic’s approach when you are dealing with love relationship difficulties?

Compassionate Love, A Big Sign of True Love?

Synopsis: A vital question starts this mini-love-lesson; followed by discussions of empathy, compassion, their mix, what science says, low compassionate relationships, the question of too much compassion; and ends with what can help and “the answer”.

A Vital Question?

Can you have real love without it being empathetically compassionate? Some of those who look mostly at romantic love, passion-filled love, young love and sexual love tend to exclude empathy and compassion as essential for authentic love. Others think all forms of healthy, real love have strong elements of empathetic compassion. They also tend to think that if empathetic compassionate love is missing, it is evidence the love is false and will fail. So let’s take a look at what is empathetic compassion.

The Nature of Empathy

Empathy usually is defined as feeling another person’s feelings. This can mean experiencing the same kind of emotions another is experiencing and even the same kind of physical feelings. These can be both good and bad feelings, but more frequently the word empathy is used to describe feeling another’s pain. More exactly, empathy commonly refers to when you perceive another in distress or in a state of hurting, you rather automatically feel a corresponding, similar sort of distress and/or pain.

Many think this especially happens in true love relationships but it may happen when viewing any other in any strong state of feeling. Examples include, one seeing a child suffering and you start to similarly suffer, or walking into a group of people laughing you might start to laugh too, although you don’t know what they are laughing about, thus, you are experiencing empathetic humor. Expressing empathy especially to someone in a state of emotional hurt frequently assists love bonding to occur and grow.

Sometimes empathy causes people to distance themselves from others who are hurting so as to escape the hurting they experience seeing others in pain. However, it is thought that when there is love it causes a person to go toward, not away, from the one who is hurting.

The Nature of Compassion

Compassion is usually defined as having deep emotional feelings and emotional understanding of another’s distress and the concomitant desire for the alleviation of that distress, and usually a strong desire to assist in that alleviation. Compassion also is thought to involve heightened perception, caring and responding to another’s suffering. Some think that love relationships tend to wither and die when there is a lack of sufficiently felt and expressed compassion.

Compassion often is seen as a key factor in both the healing of the psychologically wounded and many damaged relationships. Compassion opens doors to giving needed care, offering forgiveness and unselfish, altruistic action. Many very helpful and healing behaviors begin with compassion. Well expressed and received, compassion also precedes improvements in relational closeness, cooperation and collaboration.

Empathy and Compassion Together

If in the middle of a difficulty, someone has and shows empathetic compassion for whoever is in agony or distress, amazing improvements often can start to occur. To accomplish this sort of thing, empathy begins the process. Someone feels the feelings of a suffering other, and then has compassion, resulting in actions that show and give care. From that improvements begin. Some may feel empathy but for various reasons may not have compassion and, therefore, actions of care can be weak or absent. Others may act out of duty, guilt, obligation and other sentiments in ways that may seem to be compassionate love, but without the empathy the acts, in various ways, are less.

Science and Empathetic Compassion

Recently the brain and behavioral sciences professionals have been researching empathy and compassion and coming up with very important findings. Did you know that when you feel empathetic compassion you trigger your brain into more healthfully adjusting your own heart rate. You also cause your brain to make better and more healthful, neurochemical changes which result in feeling better both physically and emotionally. Feeling empathetic compassion also produces hormones involved in the brain’s motivating and processing interpersonal interactions. That in turn makes for better interpersonal harmony and love bonding.

Loving feelings become more common and stronger while stress reduces. Care giving actions increase and are felt as more rewarding after empathetic compassion starts to be felt and expressed. Another interesting fact is that empathetic compassion in loving relationships causes people to live longer and spend less time in medical care. Love relationships with low empathetic compassion are seen as having the opposite of these effects.

Can Low Compassionate Love Relationships Be Helped?

It is thought, and the data suggests, that those relationships where there is low expressed, empathetic compassion, tend to fail or at best function far more poorly than they might. Questions arise like, what can be done, can compassion be learned and increased, or are low compassionate relationships doomed? Are the people who lack sufficient empathy and compassion condemned to live sicker, shorter and more loveless lives while repeatedly having more love failing relationships?

About such questions there’s good, bad and indifferent news. Some of the good news is that according to Stanford Medical School’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, compassionate training can significantly assist people in learning to have and show compassion, receive compassion from others, and get good at self compassion. All of that improves the activation of the brain’s regions most associated with love, kindness, general positiveness, stress reduction and it results in improvements in general health and positive affiliation and connectedness with others. In other words, compassion training improves people, relationships and the love in love relationships.

The bad news is that people low in empathetic compassion usually don’t know how bad that is for their love relationships and for their own health. Sadly there are quite a few people who see empathy and compassionate love as weak and useless, or worse. Many of them have been taught that being tough, unfeeling and compassion-free is a virtue of the powerful and the successful. It goes along with being tough-minded, efficient, practical and this is needed for survival in a tough world. The research on love and health, especially couples, family and comradeship love, would suggest just the opposite is true.

The indifferent news is that a lot more research is needed about all of this.

Can There Be Too Much Empathetic Compassion?

Like most things, empathetic compassion probably needs to be balanced with good sense and other factors like the ‘love that challenges’ (see the mini-love-lesson titled Are You a Challenge Lover?). There seem to be people who are made dysfunctional by their overwhelming compassion or empathy, but they are quite rare. If empathetic compassion is effecting your physical and/or psychological well being it may be too much. Or it may be that you might need to learn how to be compassionate and self-caring at the same time.

Are Some Totally Lacking in the Ability to Be Empathetic or Compassionate?

There are those in the clinical fields who think that, for all practical purposes, the answer to this question is “yes”. Psychotherapists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists tend to diagnose such people as either sociopaths or psychopaths. They also tend to say that they are likely to be both incapable of love and of being cured, though they frequently can fake love and mental health rather well. This especially is true if it is to their own advantage and to other’s disadvantage to do so. Others think that with long term, quality, therapeutic help even the sociopathic and psychopathic can learn to have empathetic compassion and, therefore, can learn to do healthy, real love. In some Family Studies and Family Therapy professional groups the inability to have empathetic compassion is seen as evidence of the inability to have genuine love.

What can help?

Education, training, counseling, psychotherapy, relational therapy, self-examination and friendship all can be of considerable assistance in helping individuals and relationships grow and benefit from increases in empathetic compassion. Especially useful is the kind of training pioneered at Stanford called Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). Research in applying CCT in counseling and therapy is occurring and looking quite promising. Joint couples and family members education concerning empathetic compassion also may be quite helpful. Asking yourself and loved ones about how you might work together to increase and better express your empathetic compassionate love might also be a good way to go.

The Answer

The original question was “Is empathetic compassion a big sign of true love? Here’s the answer, as I see it. Healthy, real love does indeed require an element of empathetic compassion, and if it does not exist in a love relationship then healthy, real love probably doesn’t exist in that relationship either. We must acknowledge that others disagree. So, what do you think?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you think of two ways you could improve your expression of empathetic compassion to your loved ones?

Behaviors That Make And Grow Friendship Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  # 204

One of over 300 FREE mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries -worldwide!

Synopsis: Discover Core, Critical, and Cardinal types of behavior which make friendship happen at all levels from mild to profound.  Then explore the extremely important and highly useful research revealed 12 major subcategories of friendship actions.  A recommendation for usage and furthering your friendship life, plus a few resources for learning more are also given.

Without Action Nothing Happens

Friendships, like love, require actions backed by emotions and thought.  Without certain kinds of behavior occurring, friendships cannot be started, grown, maintained, re-established or repaired.  Thanks mostly to research in social psychology and what is starting to be known as loveology “Is There Really A New Field Called Loveology?”, we know a fair amount about what those behaviors are.  Interestingly, they turn out to be rather similar to the behaviors associated with the getting and giving of healthy, real love.  What follows is a summarization of the behaviors that make friendship happen stemming from some of that growing body of research.

Understanding Friendship at Three Levels

Friendship can be seen to occur at different levels.  Some researchers use the three categories scale starting with mild or light or just beginning friendship, then go to medium but significant friendship, and then on to deep and/or profound friendship love “Understanding Friendship, From Mild Geniality to Profound Love”.

It is suggested that the behaviors that bring about each level are best viewed and understood in ways that are rather different in each of the three levels.  Keeping this in mind helps to understand friendship and friendship actions more fully, accurately and more than superficially.  Like love, friendship does not turn out to be simple.  However, with a little concentrated work, clarity, usefulness and ways to make abundant friendship improvements can become easily evident.  So, to gain the valuable benefits of Friendship and Friendship Love and reap those rewards, we suggest you may want to apply yourself to what follows.

The Three Major Groups of Friendship Behavior

Friendship behaviors have been classified in three major groups. Here they are called
Group I, The Core Behaviors of Friendship
Group II, The Crucial Behaviors of Friendship
Group III, The Cardinal Behaviors of Friendship
All three groups contain four more exact and highly important subcategories. These subcategories are quite similar to a research approach used for categorizing the many behaviors that have been seen to convey and result in healthy real, love and improved love relationships.

These are the behaviors best focused on for starting friendships, maintaining mild or light friendships and for generally being friendly and available for forming new friendships.  These behaviors continue to be important in categories II and III and in the subcategories of more comprehensive and advanced friendship behaviors.

1.  Expressional Friendliness  Includes: Facial Expression (smiles, looks of interest, caring attentiveness, etc.), Voice Expression (tone, speed, upbeat, volume, positiveness, etc.), Gestural Expression (open arms, waving, thumbs up, etc.), Postural and Stance Expression (moving toward, standing beside, leaning toward, etc.).  Note that all forms of expression by motion, (face, body, etc.) have been found to manifest about 55% of the communication value in informal, personal conversations.  Voice expression carries about 35% of the communication value (words only 7%).

2.  Tactile (Touch) Friendliness  Includes tap touches (especially good in beginning friendships), pats, buddy hugs, hand holding, upper body hugs and later full body hugs, etc.).  Such touches are best begun mildly, lightly, quickly, non-invasively, non-romantically and non-sexually and have been known to frequently and rapidly accelerate the development of friendship.

3.  Verbal Friendliness  Includes using friendly, positive words like “good, fine, okay, yes”, polite words like “thank you, you’re welcome, first names”, asking friendly questions, assistive statements like “can I help, can I assist you with that”, supportive words like “I agree”, I am so glad you told me that, I see it that way too” etc.  Note: Do not be phony but do go out of your way to look for sincere reasons to say such things.  Words, by the way, have been found to be only about 7% of the communication value in typical, informal, personal interactions.

4.  Gifting Friendliness  Giving both object gifts and experience gifts can be quite helpful in friendship development so long as the gifting is not overdone, overly expensive, overly frequent or, at first, overly personal.  Giving someone a book is an object gift and taking someone to a movie they want to see is an experience gift.  Experience gifts and symbolic object gifts usually are more impactful than practical gifts.

Here you find the behaviors to focus on for having deeper and more significant friendships.  These behaviors are seen as crucial for growing a friendship from mild to significant and with lasting meaningfulness.

1.  Affirmational Friendship  Included here are honest praises, compliments, statements of personal appreciation, approval, respect and validation along with actions like sharing emotional experiences together, taking a friend’s side in a dispute, coming to a friend’s aid, just being there ready to help, celebrating a friend’s victories and special occasions, etc. and any other action which affirms the worth and importance of an individual to you personally.

2.  Self-Disclosure Friendship  Included here is revealing, by both word and action, your personal and more private idiosyncrasies, foibles, preferences, personal problems, failures, victories, peculiarities, embarrassments, enjoyments, items of pride and joy, and anything else that lets yourself be both more intimately known and vulnerable.  Also included is the willingness to empathetically and nonjudgmentally hear the same kind of disclosures from another.  It is by this process that friendship becomes intimate and usually more powerfully bonded.

3.  Tolerational Friendship  As friendships continue and grow, friends run into each other’s less than pleasant aspects.  That is where friendships encounter the challenge of toleration.  However, some things are not to be tolerated or tolerated only temporarily.  For many, anything which is demonstrably harmful or destructive to anyone’s life, health or well-being fits in this category. 

Notwithstanding that caution, issues of fairness, freedom, truth, compassion, altruism and love also are to be considered here.  Lesser issues of intolerance especially for minor irritations, aggravations and annoyances suggest the possibility of a kind of mental self torturing occurring that correlates with secret or subconscious low self love on the part of the one who feels intolerance for these things.

4.  Receptional Friendship  It is a gift of friendship, and possibly of love, to receive well the actions of friendship and love which come from others.  It is receptionally loving to sincerely focus on those actions and who they come from, to purposefully appreciate them and then, more than perfunctorily, show that appreciation.  It is important to spend time truly appreciating the friendly and positive treatment you get from others, and not fake it.  When you fake it or pass it off too quickly, you do not really receive it or let it do you good.  That, in turn, reduces real friendship connecting.

For growing deep, profound and lasting friendship love, the following subcategories are best focused on because they are seen to be of Cardinal Importance in this more profound process.  They encompass and are supported by the two groups and eight subcategories of behavior already described, plus they go deeper, broader and higher in their focus.  Thus, they yield a substantially deeper, broader and higher experience, more comprehension and sensing of friendship and the actions involved in creating profound friendship.

1.  Nurturing Friendship  Included here are all the behaviors that help people grow and become more than they were.  Nurturing friendship actions are supportive, encouraging, challenging, comforting, difficult truth telling, rewarding, understanding, valuing, sharing, honoring, appreciating, affirming and everything else which helps a person become more of the good things they can become.  Also included are the actions which help someone find and develop their own potentials, better meet their own challenges and better fulfill their own aspirations.

Nurturing means to assist in ways that strengthen, assists in making more effective, more complete, more accurately self honoring and more healthfully self loving.  It also means to do nurturing in ways that are in accord with another’s nature and ways of being their own unique self.  Some examples might be helping someone fulfill a lifelong dream, discover and actualize a hidden talent, improve general life skills and coping abilities, win at love or find ways to enjoy life more fully.

2.  Protectional Friendship  Real friends and true comrades are protective of each other’s safety and well-being and that protection often extends to their friends, family and important others.  Such friends stand together in facing adversity, are allies against enemies and in overcoming destructive occurrences.  They are often on the alert to warn of approaching damage, hurt and harm and are sensitive to and on guard about not being overprotective.  The phrase “I’ve got your back” typifies this aspect of friendship and the behaviors it brings forth.

3.  Healing Friendship  The research shows that friendships are very helpful in healing many maladies and injuries.  If someone you are close to in friendship is injured or ill you tend to act in whatever ways you can to help them get better.  In doing that, your assistive healing influence is practical and obvious.  But just being there with them or even close by, has been discovered to often have a surprising and mysterious healing and healthful effect.

This is true among the physically sick, injured and debilitated and even those undergoing various normal medical procedures like pregnancy and birth.  This is even more true among those psychologically in need of healing.  Just going through a difficulty knowing someone who cares is there for you has a more than is completely understood, healthful effect on many.  In the area of relationship healing, such friendship has been known to save lives, children’s mental health and whole family’s existence.

4.  Metaphysical Friendship  Praying for a friend is the most common metaphysical behavior of friendship but around the world there are many others done in various cultures and societies.  Lighting a candle at an altar, flying a prayer flag, creating a blessing-type sand painting, doing liturgical dancing for spiritually honoring of a loved one or deep friend, the reverential reading of sacred texts, spiritual chanting, singing spirituals, envisioning white and gold light exercises, ritual washing and baptizing and a host of greatly varying religious and spiritual rituals, all constitute metaphysical behaviors that are sometimes done by friends on behalf of friends.

It is hard to prove scientifically but there are well conducted studies showing surprisingly positive and supporting results for doing all of these kinds of metaphysical behaviors.  For certain, they often are beneficial to those who do the behaviors and for the target people who are aware of the behaviors being done on their behalf.  But what about those in deep unconscious states, those unaware that such actions are being conducted and aimed at them, those geographically far away and especially what about the loved dogs, horses, cows and other animals for which such metaphysical actions seem to benefit.  One of the things we do know is that metaphysical, or spiritual if you will, behaviors are enacted often with intense emotional energy, great sincerity and profound love by and for friends.  They, therefore, constitute this separate category of Cardinal Friendship behavior.

Recommendation: To improve your life’s friendship situation, give special attention to the 12 subcategories above and choose which ones you want to make improvements in.  Then set to work on doing so, as you also work to do so from deep inside your heart self.

For further friendship understanding link to mini-love-lessons Friendship and Its Extraordinary Importance, Friendship ‘Like’ to Friendship ‘Love’”, and Understanding Friendship, From Mild Geniality to Profound Love.

Some books you might want to read: Love and Friendship by Allan Bloom, Friends As Family by Karen Lindsey, Friendship: How to Give It, How to Get It by Dr. Joel D. Block, The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis, Friendship by Martin E. Marty, The Meaning of Friendship by Dr. & Sufi Master Nurbakhsh and How to Make Friends As an Introvert by Nate Nicholson.

As always – Go and Grow with love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

PS: Help spread love knowledge.  Tell somebody about this site – okay?

Love Success Question: Are you going to evaluate your own friendship actions using the 12 kinds of behavior described above? (By the way, with just a few adaptations you also can use the same 12 behaviors for evaluating your love behaviors in each type of love relationship – parent, mate, self, etc.).

Re-Sparking Your Love

Synopsis: ‘Sparking’ is first explained, then ascending, leveling off and sinking love relationships; and those in need of re-sparking are discussed; and finally 10 not so usual how-to’s for re-sparking a love relationship 


In years gone by couples talked about sparking, or sparking up their romantic or love-mated relationships.

Sparking could be anything from suggestive flirting to writing and reading love poems, to passionate kissing and erotic fondling. Sparking up could be returning to dating actions, dancing, being seductive and engaging in more than usual sexual action. All this was aimed at causing “sparky” or enlivened, desirable feelings together. Today in our busy world lots of couples could use some sparking or re-sparking.

Ascending, Leveling off or Sinking?

What do you think of the idea that says ‘if you’re love life isn’t growing’ its dying’? A great many couples don’t consciously know it but they have been subconsciously programmed to think that in the early stages of a love relationship it’s all exciting and automatically growing, but then it levels off, and if all goes well it just stays leveled off and ongoing. Sort of like a mesa (a flat top mountain), there’s the climbing up, and you reach the flat place, and you walk on the flat place from then on, until the end and you fall off or have to climb down. Others think that at least some romantic relationships are more like a another type of mountain, one you can keep going higher and higher on.

Then of course there are those who think of romantic relationships more like a swamp, but we will not deal with that right now. In your love relationships, not only with a romantic love partner, but with children and family, with friends, etc. do you think you are going about it in a way that is ascending, i.e. getting better and better, or leveling off, or slowly perhaps, sinking?

Some think there is no such thing as leveling off, there is only very slow deterioration or declining slope. That is the ‘you are growing, or you are dying’ point of view. It is true that lots of spouse-type love relationships do level off and become dull, emotionally flat or bland, and that can lead to stagnation and deterioration without people noticing it soon enough. That is when ‘re-sparking’ your love relationship is likely to help in more ways than you might imagine.

Re-Sparking How to’s and Science

Here are some suggestions, backed up by some scientific evidence as to what they might accomplish:
1. Kiss more, longer and with more variety. Studies at Arizona State University found that couples instructed to kiss more often, reduce their stress hormones and cholesterol levels, along with increasing their happiness.

2. Touch more, especially more lovingly and intimately. Don’t just have perfunctory sex, or if sex has become difficult, do much more caressing, intimate cuddling, and tender erotic and affectionate stroking.

3. Look with love. While mentally focusing on how you love each other, look lengthily into each other’s eyes when talking, don’t just glance, really look with appreciation. The University of California researchers discovered that couples who have good eye contact, and especially with affectionate touching, were a lot happier and felt a lot more appreciated than others.

4. Talk nice. Remember your voice tones can send very different messages than the words you say. Also remember ‘The 5to1 Ratio’. Replicated research at several institutions has shown that couples who average ‘five positive, affirming comments’ to ‘every negative remark’ do the best in happiness and successful, lasting love relating. So praise, compliment and voice thanks frequently. Couples who get ‘5 negatives’ to ‘every positive’ end, or go on in misery endlessly.

5. Sleep close. In Britain researchers discovered that couples who touch as they go to sleep, while they sleep, and when they wake up, and couples who snuggle a lot, and are usually within an inch or less of each other at night are happiest. It seems ‘the further apart physically, the further apart emotionally’. If there are medical reasons not to sleep together, cuddle more before and after sleep.

6. Do new things together. Go new places, take a class together, volunteer, work together for a cause you both are for, learn a new kind of dancing and meet new people. If you want to add new sparks to your heart-life, do new things together that require some learning together. That comes from studies done at the Marital Studies Lab, University of North Carolina.

7. Play with sex toys together. Research done at Indiana University revealed that both males and females who play with sex toys together, and especially vibrators are sexually more satisfied, and interestingly enough they more frequently get regular medical checkups and do better self exams physically.

8. Use visual reminders. Couples who put up pictures from their previous years together, and have mementos around, and have other visual reminders of vacations and other good times together, help to reconnect and inspire them, or in other words ‘re-spark’ their relationship better and more often, plus they plan more good events to put in their life together. That comes from the Couples Lab at the University of Wisconsin.

9. Co-write your love story. According to the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Couples and Adult Families, it will do you and yours a lot of good to write the narrative history of your love relationship. That can start you talking about future hopes and dreams, and help you feel more bonded together and generally ‘re-sparked’.

10. Study Love and It’s How to’s. Clinical evidence points to the couples who really, consciously work to learn more about how to show, receive, grow and make healthy their expressions of healthy, real love do far better than those who do not, and they do better than those who only do this kind of study in a more minor way.

Thanks to AARP for research guidance on these studies.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Are there signs that your major love relationship(s) could use some re-sparking?