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Love Expressiveness

Mini-Love-Lesson #279

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson greatly helps give due attention to how we do or don’t communicate love in other than with word ways, even when we are completely silent.  The high importance of expressionally sent love is emphasized and backed with some intriguing data.

There is a lot going on between people besides their words when communicating.  Why do we feel comfortable when meeting one person and not another – even if nothing has been said?  That is, nothing verbally has been said; a lot has been conveyed expressionally.  We message with our face, posture, movements and the tones of our voice.  Sometimes it is subtle, even subconscious, and at other times it may be blatant.  Expressional behaviors can be developed to great advantage in all types of love relationships.  How elaborate is your expressive stock of skills?  We have some expressional communication suggestions for you to think about.  One set of skills has to do with sending expressional communications and the other has to do with recognizing them when they are flashed at you.  You may want to add a number of these to your repertoire as best practices of expressional communication (see “Additive Talking – A Love Skill” and “Emotional Intercourse”).

Put simply, expressional communication usually is understood to mean the face, tone, gesture, body language and appearance variables which communicate feelings.  Actually, there is a lot more to it.  Take voice for example; voice variables include tone, amplitude, pitch variation and contour, tempo, duration, overtones and undertones, accentuations, rhythm, cadence, non-words like a sigh or pause or hmm or ahh and miscellaneous other sounds.  The scientific fields of Paralinguistics, Psycholinguistics and Sociolinguistics have published over a thousand research articles on expressional communication topics.  Therefore, much knowledge about this area is known.  The new brain science of Interpersonal Neurobiology also may be contributing relevant research (see“Talking Styles That Hurt and Help Love” Link “Other Ways to Say I Love You”).

Early studies found that in personal, direct, face-to-face communication only about 7% of the meaning was conveyed by words, about 35% by voice tones, about 55% by movement expression (such as facial, body and gesture expression) and 3% by other variables (such as clothing and atmospherics).  Isn’t it absurd that only 7% is verbal and all the rest, 93%, is called non-verbal.  This is one of the reasons we use the word expressional for this very important range of human communication.  “Non” just doesn’t cut it.  If we focus only on words, we miss much of the meaning.  If you want to become powerful and impactful when expressing your love, focus some on your words but much more on your looks and sounds of love.

 Did you know some research shows that your subconscious mind is analyzing about 300 bits of expressional information per minute in direct, personal interactions?  Likewise, the sending of expressional messages can be almost instantaneous.  Although most of this is being unconsciously processed, it can be brought into conscious awareness and worked on for improved impact. Link “Love Bids and Their Astounding Importance” and Link “Listening with Love

“The way her face lights up when I walk in, just makes my day!”.  “It’s not what he says, it’s his loving tones that go straight to my heart”.  “He has a way of towering over me that really turns me on, but it also feels protective and sweet and, well, – loving, very loving.”  “She literally dances up to me when I come home from a long trip.  Every move she makes charms me and no matter how tired I am I get delighted and feel energized”.  “Even after all these years, I still get a kick out of her giggles and wiggles when I tease her”.  Those quotes show expressional actions creating love success.   They also reveal love cycling back and forth like an engine generating happy, love dynamics.

The degree of success of any love relationship can be profoundly affected by the expressional messages being sent, received and cycled.  It also is true that the lack of expressional love interactions can severely limit the effectiveness of love.  Even when the love that is felt is strong, but not much expressed, the benefits of love can be diminished. Link “Do and Don’t Love Talk

The expressional choreography, going back and forth between people who love each other, can be like a beautiful, artful dance.  At times this dance can be fun and joyful, or intimate and romantic, or spirited and daring, or sensual and sexy or precious and tender if carried out skillfully and loaded with love.  To become good at this art form, takes lots of feeling-filled practice and plenty of playful teamwork.  I’ve seen couples of all ages, families, parents with their kids and diverse others learn the dance of expressional love.  Therefore, I bet you can too, if you haven’t already.

One more thing: Are you going to talk to someone about what you just have read?  It may be quite interesting to do so.  If you do, please mention this site and our multitude of Mini-Love-Lessons aimed at helping love relationships grow bigger and better.  Thank you.

As always – Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question:  How long can you talk your love to a loved one, before you have to start using words spoken out-loud?

Lies And Love

Synopsis: This mini love lesson covers Lying for Us-ness; Lies and Breakups; How to Get Yourself Lied to A Lot (A Baker’s Dozen Ways); Sabotaging Truth-Sharing Sabotages Love; How Lies Limit Love; When Love with Truth Is Not Allowed; and What to Do.

Lying For “Us-ness”

“I lie to save my marriage.  I’m pretty sure sooner or later I will get caught and our marriage will be over.  Until then, lies are the only way to keep my marriage going.”  So said Benson who was working hard at trying to learn how to live authentically.

He freely admitted that his career and personal life was saturated with falsehood but he vehemently testified that, nevertheless, he did love his wife.

Jolene stated, “I lie a lot to my husband just like my mother and grandmother did to their husbands and so taught me.  I really don’t know any other way that could possibly have a chance of working with my husband. Truth be told, I don’t know how any spouse can not lie a lot if they want to make their marriage work.”  Ginny and Josh in couples counseling were trying to figure out if their relationship could survive if both of them told each other several difficult truths. They had confessed that to keep their marriage going smoothly there had been a lot of deceit, both by the commission of out-and-out lies and even more by omissions of the full truth about a lot of things.

What is to be done about the lies, deceptions, half-truths, distortions, concoctions, perjury, beguilements, exaggerations, misrepresentations, evasions and out-and-out fraudulent deceit which occurs in a great many love relationships.  Some answer “nothing can be done” because all the lies are protective, softening, palliative and in one way or another useful in keeping a love relationship going.  Others say love needs the truth and without the truth real love will die.  Still others recommended that it’s okay to lie about some smaller things but not the big stuff.  However, people can vary on what they call ‘big stuff’.

There are those who comment that our culture and our love mythology especially teaches everybody to tell a lot of lies in love relationships.  “Don’t risk your relationships by telling the truth about anything that would hurt someone’s feelings” is something I once over heard an aging, Southern Bell tell her granddaughter. Of course there are those who want to know all the truth from others but they aren’t about to give anyone their own full truth.

Then there are the people who lie about love itself.  Tatiana said, “I admit I live a very two-faced life.  One face is for my husband and that face lies to him that I love him.  Another face is for my lover and that face tells the same lie but in different ways.  Since I don’t really believe love exists everything I say about love to men is a lie.  But they say it too.  They tell you they love you but all they want is sex.  But men are easily fooled.  They want to believe women are all about love.  I’m about wealthy pleasure and men are very useful for attaining that”.

So, what do you think?  How do you operate when it comes to telling lies, small, medium and large lies in a love relationship?  Do you want the truth no matter what it is?  Can you handle the truth no matter what it might be?  Before you decide for sure let’s look at some different things.

Lies And Breakups

“If he just hadn’t lied to me we might have made it”.  “She was just too deceitful. I never knew what to believe.”  “I thought I didn’t want to know the truth but in the end it was all the deceptions that destroyed us.” “Now I know I really did lie by what I didn’t tell and that is definitely what sank our ship.  I kept telling myself a lie, that omitting the truth wasn’t really lying.  If only I had admitted to myself that that was complete bullshit then I might not have lost the love of my life.”  “I really did not expect she would stop seeing me or even talking to me just because I told another lie”.  “We lied to each other a lot and in doing so we never faced our real issues.”

Every week I hear things like the above quotes when doing post-divorce and breakup recovery counseling.  The truth, at least as I see it, is that lying usually is more dangerous, or just as dangerous, to love relationships as is telling difficult truths.  At least for the strong of heart, truth (even very tough truth) is likely to give you the healthiest, long-range outcome.

It is true that some people cannot or will not work with certain truths that may arise in a love relationship.  It also is true that some love relationships are not strong enough and the love not healthy enough to enable the people to deal with certain truths.  In those cases breaking up or divorce may be painful but best in the long run.

These things not only are true for couples but also are true for all other kinds of love relationship also.  Time and again I have heard someone scream at a family member in family counseling “you lied to me”.  Often the “because” of why the lie was told doesn’t seem to matter.  Usually the wound caused by the lie and whatever the lie is about can be healed with enough love, and with the guidance of good family therapy.  Friendships, even deep and long-lasting friendships, may be killed by the telling of lies.  It seems that every type of love relationship can be endangered by lies.

How to Get Yourself Lied to A Lot

How do you help get yourself lied to?  Notice in this question I did not use the word cause’ but instead the word ‘help’.  As I see it, the person who tells the lie causes it.  However, we all can set things up so people will frequently choose to avoid telling us the truth if they can.  Here are a ‘baker’s dozen’ ways you can be pretty sure to assist yourself not getting told the truth or certainly not told the whole truth.  Each of these ways also can be quite destructive to the development of a healthy, real, love relationship.

1.  Be very condemning and judgmental when you hear a truth you don’t like, so people learn that telling you the truth is far too costly emotionally, and in energy and time consumed.

2.  Be so sure you’re right that no other view could possibly have validity, so your loved ones learn there is no use in even trying to tell you there truth.

3.  Come across very weak, fragile and delicate, so no one dares telling you a tough truth for fear you will break or be crushed.

4.  Play ‘overt victim /covert persecutor’ by showing that you feel supremely agonized at being blamed, or full of suffering martyr guilt, or you feel excessively at fault every time there’s a possibility of an unpleasant truth to be dealt with, so everyone will either dodge dealing with you or do anything to placate you, instead of just working at dealing with unpleasant truths.

5.  Become quickly and strongly upset, hysterical, incoherent, irrational and emotionally overwhelmed, so loved ones are busy trying to sooth you and their truth telling gets postponed, perhaps indefinitely.

6.  Demand and then deny evidence, insist your version of historical events is the only accurate one, and try to overwhelm with logic and oratory much like an aggressive lawyer in court, so that unpleasant truths get bulldozed and lost in the fray.

7.  Lash out with rage, personal attacks, putdowns, criticisms and personal negations of loved ones without mercy, and as you do so clutter the discussion with angrily stated irrelevant, unconnected to the original topic accusations, and miscellaneous material, so there isn’t a chance for a person’s truth to get a real hearing.

8.  Subtly, or overtly by your behavior, threaten loved ones who tell you uncomfortable truths, helping them fear that your vengeance will fall upon them and consequently cause them to protect themselves by hiding truth from you.

9.  Become unlovingly cold, distant and uncaring with elements of silent dismissal and attitudinal demeaning or condescension which is covertly obvious and, thereby, making yourself be seen as pretty much unapproachable.  If that doesn’t work withdraw and go into mysteriously hiding, so truth can not reach you.

10.  ‘Awfulize’ (make it far worse than it is) everything a loved one says, jump to all sorts of awful conclusions, and prove that telling you the truth blows everything out of proportion, so truth telling will always be a long ordeal to be avoided.

11.  Act indifferent by not listening carefully or showing any emotional care or concern, and project that you regard what you’re being told as irrelevant and unimportant. (This is particularly good for getting deceptions of omission to come your way).

12.  Use the truth a loved one shares with you against them later on, thus, punishing them for sharing their truth with you, and teaching them to avoid the risk from now on.

13. Ignoring the truth being shared and firing back or countering with something negative about the person telling you their truth, thus, devaluing their truth and deflecting dealing with it.

Sabotaging Truth-Sharing Sabotages Love

Each of the above 13 ways and a number of others act to sabotage both the telling of truth and the growth of love.  Lots of people do not realize that they get lied to partly because they make telling the truth have really bad outcomes.  Yes, it’s true we all should have the courage to tell the truth anyway, but that often is not the case.  Yes, we all should have sufficient love to be dedicated to giving our loved ones nothing but the truth, but that too is often not the case.

If you can lovingly hear the truth people are ever so much more likely to tell you there truth.  That often takes a good amount of healthy, self-love and the ability to do what is called ‘owning your okayness’ and ‘not giving away your power’.  See the entry “Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away”.

How Lies Limit Love

If I lie to you I do not present you with the real me.  If you send love to that false me it does not reach the real me.  I either know or doubt you would send your love if you knew the truth I am withholding.  Therefore, I am not reached and I’m not nourished by your love.  My lie may help me, or you, or both of us escape a painful conflict but by lying I also escape the chance of the real me being loved by the real you.  Thus, I cause us to elude the chance of sharing and experiencing intimate, real and perhaps healing love together.

When Love with Truth Is Not Allowed

She said, “If I ever find out you even think of having sex with another woman I will divorce you!”  He secretly and silently interpreted this as “I can never share with you the truth of my real sexuality. Therefore, I had best begin to look for someone else I can be real with”.

He said, “You know I’m right and I refuse to hear you say another word about this subject!  So, eventually she was in the arms of another who could and would listen to anything and everything she had to say.

If you cannot accept my truth how can I feel you accept me?  If you cannot accept me, flaws and all, how can I believe you truly can love the real me?  Please do not condemn or deny my messages of myself, and do not falsely agree with me either.  Please be willing to hear the real me as best as I can present it today.  Then tomorrow I may grow to have a better message and certainly a greater love for you!

What To Do

If you lie a lot, or perhaps you help yourself get lied to a lot, or if you are living some big lie, I like to suggest this.  By small, exact steps you can get to where you live authentically, without lies, or without being much lied to, and in the process you do no harm to anyone.

I like to suggest that for your own health and well-being, as well as for those you care about, cautiously working your way into a life of truth almost always is achievable and by far is preferable.  One reason for that is lies usually cause a lot of psycho-physiological stress, not to mention relational diminishment and danger.  Coaching by a good counselor often is just about invaluable whenever love is being sabotaged by lies.  Finally consider an old teaching question.  Can you build something real out of something false?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Is your self-love sometimes too-weak for you to be able to hear the truth?

Responsiveness and The Life or Death of Love!

Mini-Love-Lesson  # 267

Synopsis: Everything from responsiveness ping-pong to the five types of love effecting responsiveness is usefully covered here, along with perhaps some love relationship saving ideas for improving one's own love responsiveness can be found in this mini-love-lesson.

On To a New Birth of Love

Jaden looked and sounded as heartbroken as he said he felt as he sat across from me in a first counseling session.

Choked up and shedding tears he stated, "I just learned too late to be really responsive to my sweetheart and now she's left me for someone who is way better at that than me.  At first when she told me I wasn't responsive enough I argued with her but I didn't really know what she meant.  For a while I thought she meant sexually but we were pretty good there.  She called me a robot and a stone face and said I just didn't get it and now I admit I did not.  She finally explained I seldom spoke back to her when she made a comment unless she asked me a direct question, I seldom smiled back when she smiled, touched back ( Link “Touching Back - A Surprisingly Important Love Skill” ) or showed any feelings when she showed her feelings.  I read up on responsiveness and was surprised to learn that it meant to quickly, positively, and often appropriately, emotionally reply to someone or show my feelings back to them when they demonstrated their feelings.  I really hadn't been doing much of that, if any.

In the family I grew up in, we were obediently quiet or mostly just critical of each other.  You know, I didn't even say I love you back very often when she said it to me.  So, Dr.C., Is there hope for me, can I learn?”

In time and with work, Jaden unlearned his family's ways and did far better with a new love.  However, first it cost him a lot of heartache and then a bunch of self-work to get to the good love life he had achieved when I last saw him.

Responsiveness Ping-Pong

Lots of people say and do things just to get a response.  Sometimes what they want is a response with some love in it.  That might be simple and delivered by an upbeat tone of voice or a happy grin, a factual reply with an affirming smile, or by a curious question with a positive quizzical but kind look, or maybe even by a playful teasing reply -- just so it is rather quick and positive in some way.  What is said more often is not as important as the positive interplay it starts.  It sort of is like a friendly game of ping-pong. It is not a serious table tennis kind of game where winning is what is so important, instead it just is a mutual bit of back-and-forth pleasantness or fun happening.  The dictionary meaning of the words going back and forth do not convey the real communications that are occurring, instead the facial, tones of voice and other expressional behaviors do.

For many people trained and in the habit of focusing mostly on the meaning of the words being said and maybe missing the rest, this can be quite hard and confusing.  It also is difficult for the cautious who may have gotten seriously hurt when they made spontaneous, quick replies.  That happens a lot in certain kinds of dysfunctional families.

Five Types of Love-Related Responsiveness

Love relating depends on responsiveness.  Without responsiveness there is no mutual, interactive, love relating.  With good love responding, the relationship thrives.  With negative, or non-responding, or fake responding, a love relationship diminishes and then may die.  Here are five types of responsiveness effecting love relationships for you to know about and work with.

1. Unresponsiveness  A non-response frequently is perceived as a negative response indicating rejection, an insult, an expression of anger,  an attack or some other form of a negative inner response.  Remember, sometimes silence screams the loudest.  Especially in love relationships, nonresponsive reactions often trigger hurt, defensiveness, retaliatory actions and/or emotional and physical distancing.  A nonresponsive person may not have felt or meant any of these negatives.  They just may have been distracted, preoccupied, deep in their own inner concerns, doing rehearsal thinking about what they want to say next, or just not hearing well due to congestion or some other physical issue.  Quickly negatively reacting to an unresponsive loved one with anger, or accusatory complaint, or by guilt-tripping them usually makes things worse for some time.  It also can be quite unjust.  With tolerational love and kindness, checking to see if they heard you, or asking for a reply in an up tone of voice, or saying something like “I think I'm being non-responded to and that's bothering me a bit, so help me with that please" can often work much better.

2. Neutral responsiveness  In love relationships, neutral responses sometimes can work fine but sometimes not.  Neutral responses are things like saying "ah", "oh", "humm", giving a  nod or gesture, etc..  They are better than unresponsiveness because they indicate having received a sent message and usually being sufficiently okay with it.  This also conveys that the speaker is being listened to, at least to some degree, is not likely to be having a strong negative reaction and is okay enough for things to continue.  Too many neutral responses soon can begin to seem negative.  Neutrality in response to high emotionality can be interpreted as a lack of understanding, being uncaring or feeling restrained disapproval.

3. Negative responsiveness  Responses of anger, aggravation, exasperation, reluctance, disappointment and the like may just be a cathartic release, a defense against interruption or being talked over, or being diverted from a desired path or goal.  Some people tend to interpret almost every new input coming at them as some sort of negative or critical remark including even the most neutral and laudatory statements.  Likewise, they interpret informative, neutral and general comments as criticism or complaints aimed at them.  They often had one or more highly critical parents.
Then again, the negative response may indeed be a personal attack indicative of very unloving feelings and disapproval.  It even could be a subconscious expression of hate or a marked undervaluing of another's importance.  But sometimes it just is a habitual poor way of responding.  The thing is, with only one negative response to go on, unless it is severe and prolonged, you can't know for sure why it was made or how to accurately interpret it.  That is why a response of pleasant equanimity to the perceived negative response usually is best.  Pleasantly say something like "Honey, you sound unhappy, are you?”  That way you give your loved one a chance to reflect, explain and reorient themselves while not letting yourself get into a not okay reaction.  Being quick not to take offense or get trapped in sending negatives back to where perceived negatives came from is usually a better way.

A negative response often is not as bad as a nonresponse.  That is because it indicates at least some attention is being paid and some interaction may have begun.

4. Fake Positive Responsiveness  This has some value sometimes.  It may help keep the peace, give time for thinking things through, avoid destructive exacerbations, help us not sweat the small stuff and best of all allow for the emergence of tolerational love.  It, however, can have a high cost.  Fake positives can grow distrust and generate emotional distancing along with tendencies toward passive/aggressive relationship sabotage.
5. Real Love Positive Responsiveness  Just about anything said to you by a loved one actually may be a bid and/or an opportunity for some love interaction.  It also could be a tentative start to a loved one revealing personal, intimate and important feelings.  Then again, it could be any of 1000 other things.  More likely, it could be a little chance for a mutually pleasant and rather nice bit of joint, love-bonding experience.  It might be playful, affectionate, romantic or even a bit sexy and/or fully sexual.  In any case, it is an opportunity for something positive to happen; so why not use it and respond in a pleasant, positive way (see “Love Bids and Their Astounding Importance”).

We all miss these opportunities from time to time.  We all respond negatively or not at all sometimes, and fake positive is the best we seem occasionally to manage.  If we respond with other than love positivity to our loved one’s offerings too frequently, we may do serious harm to our love relationship with that loved one (this includes children, parents, friends and other loved ones).

It is a love positive when we respond with a smile, a loving up tone of voice, a love pat, a little affectionate squeeze, a bit of appreciated humor or wit, or with anything else that helps make a friendly smile or laugh occur.  Even better is when your usual demeanor around your loved ones is one of happy and/or caring receptivity and loving responsiveness (see “A Best Gift of Love”).  By making positive, expressional responses to most inputs from a loved one, you show the loved one that you respect them, value them and feel a loving positivity toward them.  Not only that, you also are sending the message that you enjoy their presence in your life and you find their influence to be worthwhile and wanted.  That, of course, helps build relational harmony and teamwork which is good for kids, friends, family and even strangers to see happening. ,Responding positively even concerning negative things helps a loved one feel safe with you and that can assist deep bonding.

Loving responsiveness and especially happy, loving responsiveness is good for all concerned.  That is because our brains produce more happy making and health making neurochemistry when we respond to one another with love and especially when it is happy love.  As love goes back and forth between people, both giving and receiving love causes a broad range of health creating brain reactions in both the givers and receivers simultaneously.  That is the biological equivalent of loving another as you love yourself.  It also is a form of doing what the Buddhists and Hindus call Mudita love which has to do with choosing to be happy and sharing your happiness with others (see  “A Best Gift of Love?”  and Teachings on Love by the acclaimed Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh).

Learning to Do Better, Positive Love Responsiveness

To make ever improving quick positive love giving responses, often takes some doing.  It frequently requires unlearning relational sabotaging habits of unresponsiveness and negative responsiveness picked up in childhood.  Have you ever noticed that there are quite a few people who start most of their replies with the word "no" followed by whatever they want to say.  That speech habit is sort of self-defeating because starting any statement with a negative word like "no" seems to increase the chances of hearing a return negative reply.  Then there are other people who habitually start to frown whenever others start talking.  That too can cause communication self-sabotage.  Responding with unfriendly gestures, distancing movements, power posturing, speaking in gruff and or winey tones and a host of other expressional language factors all can be done non-consciously but, nevertheless, can have some subtle but considerably destructive effects on love relationships over time.

Good loving responsiveness is best done by being amply attentive to what loved ones are feeling and are dealing with currently in their lives.  Being able to tune in to a loved one’s emotional, overt and covert feelings is useful for every interaction with them.  That emotional tuning in to a loved one enables us to make appropriate and effective responses.  Also, learning to lovingly ask directly how or what a person is feeling usually is very helpful but not always reliable.  So, keep looking for emotional indicators to make your responsiveness replies spot on (see  “Listening with Love”and “Communicating Better with Love”).

One More Little Item.  May I suggest you try developing your own thinking about responsiveness by talking it over with others, perhaps loved ones.  If you do that, we would very much like it if you would mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons about the better how-to's of love.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  What do you hope to see yourself do the next time someone, perhaps a loved one, does not respond to something you say, or makes only a neutral sort of grunt noise, or takes what you innocently said and interprets it as some kind of put down, criticism or other negative?

Sexual Love With Spiritual Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #233

Synopsis: Very different mindsets about this topic help you explore your own, and how you might change your life for the better via love-filled, spiritual sexuality are covered here.  Explanations of spiritual love (even for atheists), sexual love, sexual spirituality, spiritual sexuality and their mixing and more.

Can We and Should We Mix Sex and Spirituality?

Which of these following people think the closest to the way you think?

Trevor said, “I can’t think of sexual love and spiritual love at the same time.  For me it’s almost like they’re enemies or at least they belong in completely different boxes in my head”.

Celia replied, “I’m just the opposite.  To me all real loves (sexual, romantic, parental or whatever) are spiritual.  If it’s not spiritual it’s not real love, no matter what kind of love it is”.

Donald added, “I guess I don’t know how to even start thinking about what spiritual love means and putting the word sexual with the words real love gives me trouble too”.

Darla related, “I’m wondering if that’s what went wrong in my love life.  Just possibly I didn’t do romantic love or sexual love spiritually enough, so maybe my love life was bound to mess up”.

Jacob then asked, “Are we sure we are talking about anything real?  What do all those words really mean?  I know what my religion and sex are but spirituality with sex and love just confuses me.”

Ava emphatically pronounced, “Love and spirituality are the most real things in my life and they’re what make my whole life work right including the romantic and the sexual”!

Noah then firmly declared, “I don’t think we can or should try to mix sex with the spiritual.  Sexuality will just corrupt the spiritual and bring us down into sin”.

What About You?

Which of these people comes closest to having said what goes on in your head if you ponder spirituality mixed with sexuality and love?  Or do you think something entirely different from all of them?

Now for a couple of other possibly life-changing important questions.  What do you think about your spiritual life becoming more sexual and your sexual life more spiritual?  While we are at it, what do you know about the many religious movements and teachings the world over and throughout history that pronounced the unity of the spiritual and the sexual to be a good thing?  Also what do you know about what the religion you are most familiar with has to say about spiritual and sexual love?  Then there is what the nonreligious but spiritually-oriented ideologies and philosophies say?  Finally, do you want to consider the spirituality of agnostics and atheists.  Many say they are quite spiritual.

Now more personally, Do you suppose you will live more fully and more fulfilled if you achieve a greater confluence of your sexuality with and within romantic love and spirituality? Will those you love benefit more from your love if you work to intertwine these parts of your life?

How Were You Taught?

Were you perhaps subconsciously trained to keep spirituality and sexuality in separate boxes in your head like Trevor?  If your love life has been very troubled or disappointing could Darla’s concerns be yours?  About these matters, is your background training deficient, conflicted or just unhelpful leaving you confused like Donald or maybe a bit rigidly dubious more like Jacob?

Figuring out what and how much has already gotten in your head about these issues is often a good way to start exploring for what may turn out to be stupendous improvements in your life.  I say that because that is what has been true for the many who proclaim the integration of sex and spirituality has been for them, nothing short of stupendous.

What Is Real Love?

To answer this question I refer you to the definition of love mini-love-lessons at this site (see “The Definition of Love” and “A More Ample Definition of Love”).

What Is Spiritual Love?

Spiritual love can be described as a sense of mysterious love connection with that which is perceived as being far greater than the self.  It also is seen as transcending the ordinary, the mundane, the usual, the normative, the common and even time and space, and as infinitely profound and often amazingly life changing.

Is all real love spiritual?  Sages of quite a number of diverse spiritual and metaphysical traditions have said that it is.  Interestingly, several teach that before anything there was only love and love in its need to be creative burst forth with the birth of the universe.  Therefore, everything of real importance is of love and especially is that true of sexuality because it can lead to the miracle of birth.  Another shared teaching holds that the substance of deity is pure love from which all real love flows (see “Spirituality and Love, Great and Grand”).

Throughout history and all around the world, those in love relationships, be they spouses, lovers, deep dear friends, loving parents of a newborn or even lovers of life itself, proclaim the experience of love to sometimes be awesomely spiritual.  Many a couple experiencing amazing love-filled sex testify to having undergone a profound, spiritual/sexual experience.

Some reductionist scientists posit that spiritual love must only be some unusual, neurophysical event in the brain.  However, others comment that this reductionist explanation might describe how spiritual love is neurochemically processed and that cosmically there may well be much more to it than that arguably arrogant conclusion suggests.

More Spiritual or More Religious?

Spiritual seekers tend to be quite different from religionists though many are both.  Spiritual quests lead seekers along mysterious paths into the unknown as well as toward uncertain goals.  Religionists, on the other hand, tend more to accept and profess established doctrines and credos.  Spiritual seekers often grapple with the great questions like why are we here and what is my purpose in life.  Frequently they then quest for their own individual answers and personal enlightenment.  Religionists more often conform and adhere to the belief systems provided for them by authoritative sources.  Spiritual seekers can tend to be more open to a diversity of love experiences and understandings while many religionists not so much.  At least that is what some research suggests.

What Is Sexual Love?

Sexual love is easier to define.  It simply is real love integrated with natural sexuality.  As such, it can be experienced confluently with spiritual love.

What Is Sexual Spirituality and Spiritual Sexuality?

These two can be described together as grand and powerful feelings of intimacy while feeling and acting passionately sexual and, at the same time, feeling intensely loving which brings on a sense of transcendental and oceanic connection with that which is far greater than the self.  It often includes awesome feelings of being a part of the universal, unknowable and immensely wondrous.  Spiritual sex and sexual spirituality also can be described as incredibly precious, highly personal, extraordinarily intimate, deep core uniting with the sacred spirit of another and/or a deistic presence.

Exploring Sexual and Spiritual Love Together

By exploring this mini-love-lesson, you already are joining millions of others who have, or are exploring sexual and spiritual love often together with a loved one or more.  I suggest the next step might be for you to read more about it.  There is plenty written.  For that, you might check-out Sacred Sexuality by A. T. Mann and Jane Lyle, perhaps followed by Sex and Spirit by Clifford Bishop. Love and Living by the Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, is full of the wisdom of love and the theological.  For a more deeply psychological understanding, Sexuality and Spirituality, Pursuing Integration by Dr. William F. Kraft will do nicely.  All of these help in giving a fascinating and wonderfully, wide-ranging look at the many components of our subject.  The first two of these sources especially cover what a great many, different approaches actually have done about exploring love-filled sex and spirituality.

Some books give sexual/spiritual procedures to follow in the form of a series of exercises, and a fair number of couples have followed these and reported positively about their results.

A Google search will show you a huge number of other sources, many of which are not very useful in my opinion.  Some are just propaganda for selling a particular brand of religion or costly stuff.  But then again, some sources are quite fine, helpful and less expensive.

The next thing you might consider doing is attending workshops, retreats, courses, spirit quests, getting group coaching and attending other more experiential events.  Tantric workshops and retreats are among the most popular in this area of spiritual sexuality.  These kinds of experience-based events have a great range of intensity and for some are quite shocking.

So, considering the experiential, are you ready for participating in or observing reverent eroticism, prayerful masturbation and sacred mutual masturbation, liturgical naked chanting and dancing, reverential group nude massage, sacramental lovemaking, genital sanctification, risqué and sensuous religious rituals, aphrodisiac ceremony, orgasmic blessedness, Goddess sex and a great deal more.  It is important to select carefully which of these kind of and level of experiences you will be okay with.  Be sure to get enough information ahead of time from those who are in charge.  Many of these are for couples only but there are ones for singles available.  My suggestion is to carefully consider doing at least one or two of these type things but only if they seem to have a lot to say about love itself and are not ridiculously expensive.  Perhaps start with the milder ones and watch out for con artists (see “Sex Fears Mastered with Love”).

Now, if you are in a romantic type, love relationship, consider together following a guidebook or receiving instruction in a course of spiritual/sexual/love-based procedures available via a well credentialed, trained and qualified sex educator, counselor or therapist with some modern loving, health-oriented, spiritual background and see where that leads.

This is not to say that a couple in a deeply loving relationship must search outside their relationship to learn and experiment with combining sexuality and spirituality.  In a mutual, loving and trusting environment, peak experiences can be achieved together.  Just don’t play strike one, you’re out; time and patience often leads to success. Outside alternatives sometimes offer things a couple might not have thought of or instructions that might prove helpful.

One More Little Thing: With whom might you lovingly talk-over this mini-love-lesson, perhaps mentioning where you got the ideas from?

As always Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If we keep the sexual and the spiritual separate, who benefits and who is perhaps harmed?

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?