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Falling Out of Love - Or Was It False Love?

Synopsis: First we introduce you to an emotion you may not know; followed by the question “Is real love something you can fall out of?”; then the topics: exes who keep loving each other; research explorations into falling out of love; what’s religion got to do with it; and we end with looking at falling in and out of love versus growing in love.

An Emotion You May Not Know?

Have you ever thought you were really in love with someone only later to have strange feelings telling you had fallen out of love with that person?  Can you look at past ‘in love’ experiences in which your feelings changed to a ‘not in love’ feeling or awareness?  If you are in a current, spousal type, love relationship, are either or both of you getting feelings of the love starting to lessen?

Do you know that people in certain language groups are aware of different emotions than are those in other language groups?  The Russian language has a word for the emotion a person feels which tells them they are or have fallen out of love with someone.  That word is “razliubit”.  Some have described it as a bittersweet emotion, a bit akin to the emotion called nostalgia plus a sense of something as finished or finishing, and it is time to look toward something new and unknown.

Sometimes it is interpreted as telling a person they were not in a real love but just in an infatuation or some other form of false love which could never last.  It apparently can have both glad and sad parts and maybe a sense of relief or freeing.

Note that when we have a label for an emotion and use it, we much better can identify it, think about it, talk about it and understand its guidance message.  By labeling this ‘falling out of love emotion’ Russian speakers can deal with it apparently quicker and better, and act on it sooner and better than those without this label in their conscious awareness.

Is Real Love Something You Can Fall out of ?

Some theoreticians think once you have real love for someone it is forever.  They suspect that it is only various forms of false love that can actually end.  There are many who say they could never stop loving their children, or their parents, or their brothers and sisters, or their best friends – no matter what.

There also are a lot of people who say they still have a love for someone they used to be married to, but it has changed some, or is in a sort of ‘inactive’ status, however, it is still there in their heart.  Some people say things like, “I still love all my exes”, “My ex is just like a brother or sister who I dearly love”, “Certainly I love my alcoholic spouse but I dare not do anything with that love because it would destroy me, as it nearly did” and “It’s sad we were so wrong for each other but we still love each other a lot, even though we hardly ever have anything to do with each other anymore”.

Exes Who Keep Loving Each Other

There is a lot of clinical evidence in case histories that points to couples who have broken up or divorced, who actively keep loving each other.  Many family counselors commonly hear things like, “My ex and my new husband get along just fine.  That’s good because I love them both”.  “Yes, I love my new wife tremendously but in a different way.  I still love the mother of my children just as much and I will always love her.  I couldn’t stop if I tried”, and “In our family our ex-mates and even some of our ex- lovers still are family members. They all show up for birthdays and Christmas, and everybody still loves everybody.  Newcomers have to accept that”.

Often times post-breakup or divorced exes who keep loving an ex cause a lot of trouble, especially for new spouses.  It is not uncommon for a new spouse to feel very threatened by their mate’s continuing love for an ex-spouse.  The mindset or schema for how divorce is supposed to work in a lot of people’s heads, does not include room for love of an ex.  For them, once you divorce you are supposed to stop loving, or are supposed to have fallen out of love and even perhaps made an enemy of your ex.  In other’s schema or mind pictures, it is okay to love whoever you love, but how you do it changes in various ways when a new spouse comes along.

Research Explorations

Fairly recently research into falling out of love has begun and its findings, though somewhat meager, are quite intriguing and certainly pioneering.  Evidence points to ongoing, successful couples fading out of romantic love and that romantic love being replaced by a more solid sense of deep, abiding love which is longer lasting.  Other couples also experience the waning of romantic love and with that dimishment often comes the dissolution of their relationship.  It seems some romantic love relationships are killed by repeated emotional abuse and neglect.

The falling out of love experience seems to go with couples in which one or the other, or both, markedly reduce their acting with the behaviors that are known to convey love (see mini-love-lessons on the Behaviors That Give Love – The Basic Core Four).  Deceit, loss of trust, sometimes sexual issues, feelings of repeatedly being undervalued and too frequently being lovingly undealt with seem to often precede the falling out of love experience.  There is confusion as to whether one falls out of love or the love is killed by anti-loving behaviors and neglect.

What Does Religion Have to Do with It?

It is thought that the popular concept “real love is forever” came from various religious teachings which interestingly are found in a wide number of the world’s religions and theological writings.  Perhaps it was traveling monks, along with troubadours, who spread the stories and myths that love is a forever thing.

The concept that love never ends is distinctly and clearly scriptural in Christianity.  However, certain religionists have made an exception for carnal love, even for those married.  Any love, even if it is quite real, is seen as sinful and corrupting by any pleasurable sex according to those religionists.  However, a growing number of theologians, more love-focused than only strictly faith-based, strongly disagree and support the idea that all forms of real love may be forever.

Especially in certain Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic traditions there are teachings promoting the idea that all love, even passionate and sexual love, is of divine origin and, thus, is everlasting.  Similar thoughts can be found in the Scriptures and theology of Judaism, Taoism and a good many other smaller religions.  Thus, the thesis that one does not fall out of true love but only falls out of false love is quite arguable from a wide range of religious perspectives.

Falling In and Out of Love Versus Growing in Love

Here is a concept to consider.  Couples who ‘fall in love’ can also ‘fall out of love’, but couples who ‘grow in love’ cannot.  That is because falling in love may be more a symptom of infatuation or some other form of false love, like the one called limerence.  Some couples, perhaps many, may start their relationship by having a ‘falling in love’ experience but then grow a different, more real love that is lasting.  Still others experience the falling out of love phenomenon because it is a false love and not lasting.  Couples growing a real love through loving effort and loving actions, plus some time, are thought to do much better and be much more long-lasting than those who rely on the falling in love experience.

Much has yet to be learned about all aspects of love, including the falling out of love phenomenon.  Hopefully this mini-love-lesson discussion will assist you in pondering your developing understandings of love.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you still love all the people you have ever loved?

Love Bids and Their Astounding Importance

Synopsis: How pitching and catching love bids makes an enormous difference starts our discussion; followed by what love bids are; and finally ending with the super significance of well caught and well returned bids; more.

Pitching and Catching Love Bids Makes All the Difference

Across the crowded room Michael glanced at Grace, then briefly smiled and nodded ever so slightly in her direction.  Grace coyly smiled back as she gave a slow subtle return nod.  Such a small, quick interaction but it made both Michael and Grace feel slightly elated and a bit more emotionally connected.  Both thought about how good their love relationship was and how glad they were to have it all these many years.

They both then moved through the gathering toward each other and went happily home earlier than they had planned, enjoying each other all the way.  Because Michael had ‘pitched’ Grace a little behavioral “bid” for love connecting and Grace ‘caught’ it well and pitched one back, this couple had one of their many, excellent, loving evenings together, feeling close and intimately connected.
Nan and Buck did not fare nearly as well.  Buck was eating an early lunch at work when Nan called and said, “Let’s go to lunch together”.

Buck, lost in his work, said a rather abrupt, “No, I’m already eating here at my desk.  Is there anything else?”.  Nan feeling discounted and rebuffed mumbled a goodbye and ended the call.  After work, Nan decided to get a drink with some of her fellow workers and went on to spend the evening flirting and dancing, and then got home rather late.  Waiting at home, Buck felt lonely, a bit worried and then a bit angry.

When Nan came in he greeted her with a very critical, parent-like, “Where have you been. You should have called if you were going to be late”.  Feeling criticized like a child, she lied saying she had to work late and she was going to bed because she was really “wiped out”.  Now both of them felt lonely and rebuffed.

Had Nan pitched her bid for love connecting in a much more clear fashion like, “I really want a little personal, close, ‘us’ time together.  Let’s use today’s lunch time for that.  Okay?”.  Had Buck been more aware and ‘caught’ and understood Nan’s ‘love bid’ for what it was, a chance for a love connection experience, they might have done as well as Michael and Grace but sadly they didn’t.
Research is showing that the ‘pitching and catching’ of love bids may be crucial to the success or failure of many love relationships.  This is true not only for couples but also parents and children, family relationships, deep close friends and even with pets.  There even is evidence that love bidding also may occur in the animal world, especially among mammals.

What Are Love Bids?

Simply put, a love bid is any action aimed at initiating an experience of mutual love connection.  It can be as simple as a wink, an intimate tone of voice, a tender touch, a welcoming gesture or an inviting smile.  It can be a bid for love connecting by way of showing and sharing humor, ideas, affection, excitement, fun, silliness, conversation, empathy, affirmation, self-disclosure, caring, support, catharsis or just time together.

Love bids often are subtle but they also can be quite clear and obvious.  They are accomplished by both verbal and expressional (non-verbal) behaviors.  They help fill one of love’s major purposes, that of healthful connection (see mini-love-lessons “A Functional Definition of Love”).  Love bids, well pitched and well caught, and then returned again help us come together, get happy together and help bring about the best and most important of love nurturing and emotionally nourishing experiences.

Love Bids and Love Success

There is research from the pioneering and famed Gottman Institute that shows successful couples tend to connect and interact 86% or more of the time when one partner or the other makes a bid for love relationship connection; success here is defined as a couple being together six or more years.  Failing couples, those who break up or divorce in less than six years, connect after a bid for connection is made, on average, only 33% of the time or less.  That is only one of an increasing number of findings from a growing body of large-scale, long-range, ongoing research efforts in a wide number of fields working to discover what succeeds in love relationships.

A considerable amount of growing evidence points to this conclusion.  Love bids and love connecting experiences are vital for maintaining and growing healthy, real love relationships.  The maintenance of ongoing relationships, the healing of damaged relationships and living balanced and healthfully in active relationships is crucially affected by how well people in these relationships ‘pitch and catch’ their bids for love connecting.

Subtle Bids for Love Connecting

Jennifer looked up and in whispered tones said, “Aren’t the clouds beautiful”?  She was making a small, subtle bid for her husband to briefly connect with her in a sharing appreciation, love experience.  She was purposefully making it small and subtle because, to her, it seemed more intimate and romantic that way.  Perhaps it also seemed safer protecting her from being obviously rejected if he didn’t catch it or reacted somehow negatively.

If Jennifer’s husband made absolutely no response to her bid she might see him as being insensitive, not valuing her, perhaps upset with her, or even evidence of him not loving her.  If Jennifer’s husband responded with something like, “No, I actually don’t like those clouds, they look like a storm is brewing and that’s going to ruin our barbecue plans for tonight”.  That would have been better than no response at all.  Even though it presents disagreement, it involves replying and interacting with her about what she said, and that is more of a love connecting than not responding at all.

If he added to his disagreement statement, terms of endearment like Sweetheart or Darling, along with pleasant tones of voice, it could be considered quite loving.  That might have met Jennifer’s desire to be dealt with, and connected with, as someone who is loved by her husband.  It, therefore, would have been a love nourishment and bonding experience, better by far than silence.

If Jennifer’s husband responded by putting an arm around her, and pulled her closer as he also looked at the clouds and then kissed her on the cheek, that would have given her the love connection that her bid actually was aimed at producing.  If he had added words like, “I feel so close to you when we see beautiful things together”, that might have made for an intimate moment of superb, love connection.
The pitching and catching of subtle love bids sometimes can be something of an art form.  It may involve all sorts of intriguing, enjoyable, enticing and surprising, artfully delivered, variations.  It also can be quite spontaneous and even unconsciously done.  Without even knowing it, a sad look can be a bid for supportive, caring, love connecting.

Obvious Bids for Love Connection

While subtle bids for love connection are considered more romantic and safer from embarrassment, obvious bids are much more likely to be clearly understood and successfully enacted.  However, when they are lovelessly rejected, the ‘ouch’ factor usually is much stronger.  So, unless your self-love is quite strong, having your obvious bids for love connection turned down may result in you feeling really hurt.  The healthfully, sufficiently self loving can sincerely think “their loss” and go on feeling okay.  Others, not so much.

Obvious bids usually are accomplished through the use of words requesting specific behaviors.  “Let’s cuddle on the couch for the next half-hour and just be close, okay?” is an example of an obvious bid for love connection.  A well pitched, obvious love bid includes four elements: (1) the behavior desired –  to cuddle, (2) the desired place where the behavior is to occur – on the couch, (3) the desired time – the next half-hour, and (4) the desired emotional mood – closeness.  A good, obvious love bid usually is stated in loving tones of voice with loving facial expressions, gestures and perhaps some loving touch.  If delivered in written form, it usually is good to add some additional words expressing love directly.

It also is good to be careful about making a clear difference between a bid for sex and a bid for love, or a bid for both together.  It is important that you and your intimate love partner both be sure you have the same understanding.  If you say, “I want to hug” and it means “let’s have a raunchy, good time together, miscommunication problems are highly likely.

Well Caught and Returned Love Bids

Responding to love bids is crucial for having ongoing, love success.  When couples, or families, or friends reduce their pitching, catching and return pitching of their bids for love connecting, as one might expect, connection reduces.  Reduced love connecting sets up a love relationship for all manner of problems.  Love malnutrition and love starvation may occur.  This especially is dangerous for the health and well-being of young children.

Vulnerability to couples having affair problems becomes greater.  Friends and family members can grow distant with reductions of love bids.  And all sorts of other maladies become more likely when bids for love connection are markedly reduced or absent.
Frequently and, if possible, artfully pitching your bids for love connection, receiving other’s bids, and responding with a return pitching leads to love cycling.  This in turn tends to grow love and make it stronger, as well as healthier, not to mention more enjoyable.

To do all that requires several things.  It is just like the game called “catch” when the ball is thrown back and forth.  (Notice the game is not called “throw”).  First you have to be aware that something is being thrown or pitched to you.  Otherwise, what is pitched may fly right by you.  Once you notice what is coming, you have to try to catch it.  This requires some understanding of what it really is, or might be, and a receiving response, followed by an awareness of whether you got it or not.

Misinterpreting or misunderstanding is like fumbling the ball.  Next you have to come up with how you are going to make a return pitch, followed by aiming and sending it.  Each of these steps can be handled artfully with practice, clumsily, or not at all.  The research suggests everybody totally misses some of the time, fumbles at other times, but with practice, sometimes with coaching, they can get better and better at this astonishingly important love skill.  So, the more you study and practice both your pitching love bids and catching your loved one’s bids for love connection, the better the relationship likely will be.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What kind of bids for love connecting are you good at making, and what kinds are you likely to miss or misunderstand?

Intimacy Fears and Love As the Cure

Synopsis: This mini-love-lessons starts by discussing fears and confusion regarding intimacy; and then gets into the question of why intimacy; the yea’s and nay’s of psychological intimacy; and the importance challenge of studying intimacy further for growing great love; more.

Fears and Confusion

“Let’s be intimate!”  Does that statement scare you?  Does it confuse you?  Does it excite you?  Do you wonder if the word intimate means you are being asked to do something sexual, or something emotional, or both?  If someone were to say to you “I feel so intimate with you” would you hope or fear that person wanted to have sex with you, make love with you, or were experiencing emotions of closeness and personal connection focused on you.

When you use or hear the word ‘intimacy’ are you puzzled or quite sure about what is meant?  Are your emotions usually more apprehensive or more positive.  Or perhaps you are just neutral or confused.  ‘Intimacy’ can be just another polite euphemism for being sexual or it can have to do with becoming especially emotionally close and connected with someone.  Many fear that it means they will be asked or required to make themselves vulnerable and exposed, and they fear they will either do that poorly or they will self reveal things that will get them hurt and rejected.

For you, is intimacy about sexuality, or emotional closeness or both, or is it something else entirely.  Whichever way it is for you, is it more of a positive or a negative?  For many people it is one of the most wonderful parts of a love relationship.  For others it is very threatening and to be avoided if at all possible, sometimes both sexually and emotionally.

Many love relationships grow strong and healthy largely by way of intimacy.  Many other relationships fail to thrive because of too little intimacy.  Still other relationships are wounded or ended by way of intimacy poorly dealt with.  All this means that if you want a successful love relationship, understanding and being able to operate well intimately may prove essential.

Why Intimacy?

It is by intimacy that we more fully give the gift of ourselves to those we love.  It is by intimacy that we more fully receive the gift of much more completely knowing another.  It is by intimacy from and with those we love that we more fully experience the joys possible with them.  It is then through intimacy that we can better give those we love, love’s precious acceptance, tolerance, affirmation and the special joys of shared, intimate love.

It is by intimacy that we let others more fully know us and open those more private parts of ourselves to their love.  It is by intimacy that we much more fully and richly experience each other.  It also is by risking intimacy that we show we are brave and strong enough to let ourselves be loved where we fear we may not be lovable.  That is the ‘why’ of intimate love.  It also is why it is best that we strive to overcome our fears of intimacy.

The Yea’s and Nay’s of Psychological Intimacy

Psychological intimacy has to do with close association and personal connection, usually mixed with affection and love.  It implies both a deep and broad knowledge of someone and letting oneself be known deeply and broadly.  Becoming emotionally intimate with another means relating to that person’s essence and core being, and letting them do likewise with you.  If things go well, it can mean developing a sort of close harmony with another’s inner character and most genuine, innermost, true self.  When deep intimacy is joined with love there can be a sense of the fusion of souls connected in profound and wondrous, love-filled, abiding serenity and joy.

If in attempting intimacy things do not go well, it can mean feeling pains of rejection, inadequacy, negative judgment, criticism, disapproval, exclusion, loneliness, emptiness, failure, condemnation and feeling threatened.  Intimacy in friendship love usually includes feeling a very warm, personal attitude toward someone who is feeling a very similar way toward you.  When that occurs a sense of cherished unity with another can occur.  Feelings of intimacy in a couple’s relationship often brings on an amazing, combined, simultaneous sense of serenity and elation.  Feelings of intimacy in a family may include the above and be accompanied by a sense of happy familiarity and safety.

The Role of Risk

Intimacy is feared mostly because usually it requires the risk of self-disclosure.  With self-disclosure one’s inadequacy, insufficiency, ugly parts, failings, areas of ignorance and all other ‘not okay’ factors may be seen and known by another.  With that could come being shamed, demeaned, rejected and abandoned to live a loveless life.  To the contrary, one could also meet with loving acceptance, understanding, inclusion and the joys of intimacy.  Psychological Intimacy often requires considerable and repeated risk-taking.

Are you strong enough and okay enough with yourself to handle attempts at intimacy not turning out well.  If you have sufficient, healthy self-love, risking self-disclosure and being more real and exposed to another can be okay even if it does not go well.  If you are sufficiently, healthfully self-loving, and you ‘own’ it so it can not be taken away from you, taking the risk of self-disclosure can be easier.  Nevertheless, intimacy still can lead to you getting severely hurt emotionally but hopefully not irreparably.

Intimacy Betrayal

When you have an intimate relation with someone they get to know all sorts of things about you.  You may give them intimate knowledge about your secrets, your areas of weakness, your vulnerabilities, your misdeeds, your private ways, along with your peculiarities and your idiosyncrasies.  You also may reveal your secret riches, your private joys and the taboos you relish.  All this they can tell to others who may use this knowledge against you.  Perhaps even worse, they themselves may use this knowledge against you.  Embarrassment, shame, disadvantage, various types of loss, personal defeat, blocking of opportunity and a great deal of emotional hurt might result.  Thus, it behooves you to be very careful about who you become psychologically intimate with.

Cherishing Intimacy

In a love relationship when someone lets you know them intimately, it is very important that you cherish your intimate knowledge and experiences with them.  Cherish means to appreciate, honor and hold special and private whatever has been intimately shared with you.  Unless you are given specific permission to share an intimacy – don’t!

No small number of friendships, romances and family relationships have been irreparably ruined by someone revealing and exposing instead of holding private someone else’s intimate secret.  Sometimes it is because the revealer thinks it won’t do any harm, or it might do some good, or it is just too funny not to reveal.  I know of at least one case in which such a betrayal of intimacy got the revealer shot and another in which a person was jailed, not to mention a passel of breakups and divorce actions.  The unintended negative consequences of revealing private and personal intimacy facts can be enormous.

Cherishing intimacy well often leads to someone becoming much more emotionally close, growing trust, sharing very special joint joy, and feeling preciously and especially uniquely, strongly, personally connected.  Those feelings can be so powerful and wonderful it makes the dangers of psychological intimacy well worth the risk.

Tiny Intimacy

A lot of love’s intimacy gets achieved by tiny actions.  A certain kind of glance, a wink, an ordinary word said in a special tone, a slightly sexual touch quickly done, a word or term with special private meaning, a facial expression that says “I understand and care”, a whispered private nickname, all these and many more tiny acts of intimacy are often used by highly successful couples, friends and family members to achieve and sustain intimate connection.

Sexual Intimacy

Really good and full ranging sexual intimacy involves emotional intimacy.  This may include letting someone explore both visually and by touch every reachable inch of you while you do the same with them.  It also may involve letting yourself be seen as you experience a vast array of uninhibited, different physical and emotional feelings while you appreciatively and intensely do the same with them.

Intimate sexuality may involve tiny, little, extraordinarily precious and awesomely tender movements and moments.  Intimacy in sex also may include amazingly strong and powerful sensations arrived at through wild abandonment resulting in oceanic ecstasy and a sense of cosmic, spiritual connection.  Sometimes for some people the loss of inhibitions and the enacting of actions they have been taught are forbidden, naughty, nasty, filthy, wrong and sinful, etc. are what opens the door to joint, incredible intimacy.  For others sharing actions that are extremely loving, preciously pleasuring, and delicately tender brings forth a sense of miraculous intimacy which is for them magnificently and enormously love-filled.

Sexual intimacy also can be achieved in simpler ways, like just doing a few easy actions of what a love partner wants and seeing that has brought your loved one pleasure.  Once sexual partners know each other well, lots of sexual intimacy is achieved by using that knowledge in simple pleasure-giving and receiving.  This is sometimes done with a kind of sexual laziness and easy-going familiarity resulting in a more serene, further love-filled, intimate bonding.

Curing Intimacy Fears with Love

If you have healthy self-love and a healthy real love of another, or of friends and family, you can use that love to work past your intimacy fears.  To do so, focus on the fact that love can make you brave and, therefore, able to take the risks involved in going psychologically naked, or very self-disclosure-prone with those you want to do love with.  Yes, it will cost you maybe embarrassment, awkwardness and making some blundering mistakes, but remind yourself for growing bigger, better, stronger love it is likely to be worth it.  Just with someone you love, you can say things like “I feel ashamed to tell you this but…?, and “Doing what you want is so utterly embarrassing, let’s go ahead and do it”.

Can you show that you are not good at something yet with someone you love?  Are you brave enough to act and look silly?  Are you strong enough to reveal your weaknesses?  Will you let your real flaws and foibles be seen?  Will you let yourself experience your emotions, and both talk and show them fully.  Doing so often is the price that must be paid for intimate love to occur and grow.

If you center yourself in love, come from love on purpose, and do what you are afraid to do you might be able to reveal yourself to a loved one and then love’s intimacy may result.  With inner, loving, self talk you can tell and show your fears and by doing so move forward, perhaps carefully into greater self-disclosure and the intimacy it can bring.  If you let your fears stop you, you probably will not.  Keep reminding yourself, LOVE CAN DEFEAT FEAR.  Remember also that you can ask those you love for loving tolerance and acceptance as you go.

Study Intimacy

Like most things, the more you study intimacy the more you may do it well.  This mini-love-lesson is designed to help you move at least a bit forward in improving your love relationships via intimacy.  The hope is to get you to consider, and study, and then experimentally practice what you have learned about intimacy.  Those who do well with intimacy tend to extend and strengthen their love relationships.  So can you?  Therefore, it is recommended that you talk with your loved ones about what intimacy is, read about it, carefully experiment and explore, and then discover intimacy more fully and experience its many outstanding marvels and wonders as you go.  Recommended reading Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
If you were going to go to a loved one, and do something or say something rather intimate right now, or very soon, what would it be?

Protective Love

Mini-Love-Lesson #287

Synopsis: The courage of those who love protectively; our species reliance on the protective love of the cooperative; the 4 cardinal points and formulas for understanding protective love and its psychology; the protective usefulness of fear, worry and anxiety; avoiding over-protective love, plus empowering your own protective love are all concerns of this mini-love-lesson.

Among the stories about us humans, there literally are hundreds of thousands of verified accounts which tell of mothers, fathers, other family, friends, comrades and even humanitarian strangers who bravely defended and tried to save loved ones and others. No one knows how many gave up their lives in these actions of courageous love.

Many nobly give their lives in other ways. Those who defend the downtrodden, the disadvantaged and the persecuted are great practitioners of protective love.  Included in this esteemed group are those who search for cures for illnesses, maybe out of love for a lost or suffering victim of that illness.  Also of note, are the many who watch over and give care to those unable to take care of themselves. Then there are the troops who stand guard, ready to defend and protect.  Many are the others who care about safety and protection and work on better safeguarding devices and procedures.  There are so many more who devote their lives to protective love in large and small ways to the betterment of us all.

Love, real love, is protective! False love seldom is heroically protective but only pretends to be so. Protective love is of cardinal importance to the survival of our species.  Not too long ago, humanity was viewed in a survival of the fittest framework which emphasized conflict and competition.  More recently, our existence has been seen as actually more dependent on cooperation, mutual protection and on love itself.

Protective Love is understood to be hardwired in our brains and has been evolving over millions of years.  There is anthropological evidence that this protective drive predates human existence.  A great many species exhibit protective behaviors (which look like love) not only for their young but for others of their own kind and even for other species.

Cooperative, group, protective behavior also has been observed by naturalists studying higher order animal families, tribes and pack’s defensive actions in the field. An example are the musk ox under wolf-pack attack, who form a circle around their calves; they face outward with their horns lowered ready to gore any wolves hungry or brave enough to attack their circled wall of horns. Another observed example was larger male apes that worked together by standing between predators and the smaller young and females, and even threw stones and tree limbs at predators driving them off. Then there is man’s best friend and the many authenticated stories of dogs saving their master’s lives by attacking threatening bears, lions and tigers. Sometimes these dogs, even when severely wounded, continued to defend their masters even to their death.

Protective Love Is a Cardinal Love

When we shine a light on the meaning of cardinal, we see it indicates immense importance, essential influence and the highest order of significance.  When we combine cardinal with love, we see it points to love’s most potent aspects.  Then, if we add the element of protection, we have a formula that leads to the survival of our species.  

Protective love has the high standing of being a cardinal love because of four major reasons: 

1.  Love motivated protection and rescue has ensured survival throughout the ages.  If it were not for protective love, none of us would be here.  If that is not a cardinal principle, we do not know what is.  Arguably, the survival importance of protective love is true for all higher order species as well.  Protective love is essential to our continuing existence and advancement – protecting self, others, nature, and all that makes life worthwhile is our challenge.  

2.  Another reason protective love is cardinal has to do with our brain.  Our brain is essential to life and our way of being human.  Our brain is built for processing protective love.  That is evidenced in our neurophysiology, neurochemistry and neuro-electrical functioning.  Thus, our brain is central to our behaviors of giving and receiving love.   

3.  Protective love is cardinal because it encompasses many of our grandest, human actions.  Protective love has been the chief, driving force motivating millions of life-saving actions, courageous rescues and heroic defenses.  Steadfast and enduring, safety-focused actions done on the behalf of those we love epitomize the cardinal nature of protective love.  The altruistic and humanitarian efforts which bring safety to the endangered, healing to the wounded or sick, along with relief to the beleaguered are other manifestations of the cardinal essence of protective love.

4.  The final reason protective love is considered cardinal involves how wide ranging and broadly influential it is. Every way love can be conveyed can be done for safety’s sake. Every love relationship, at times, can need some protective and safety-oriented help.  Every time there is an absence of protective love action, where it might be useful or needed, damage to a love relationship may occur.   However, every time protective love is expressed or enacted it is likely to make a love relationship better.  Every time we are doing protective love, we are doing love relating.

The psychology of protective love is fairly simple. Love involves the high valuing of who and what we love. Therefore, it is natural to want who and what we highly value to keep existing, to function well, and be present in our lives.  Furthermore because of love, we want for the well-being of who and what we love. So, we act to be protective of who and what we highly value.

Protective love not only is an inherently powerful force, it also is empowered by some of our other strong emotions. One of these potent influencers is fear and its cousins worry, anxiety, apprehension and sense of threat. Those emotions can guide us to be cautious, watchful, on guard and safeguarding in our actions so that we can see danger coming and do something about it before it reaches us. Wisely handled, our fears can be self-protective and help us be protective of our loved ones. It is only when fear becomes too big or goes on too long that it becomes a damaging stressor. Fear, worry and anxiety can be our friends providing us with warnings we need to keep us and our loved one’s safe.

Another source of empowerment for protective love is our desire for our loved ones to do well, advance, grow, prosper, actualize and be happy. Anything that might be a threat to those positives, we tend to protectively act against. In short, we want the best for who and what we love and we can be quite powerfully protective about that.

When protective love becomes our dominant guide for how we go about love, danger lurks there. Protective love, even as wonderful as it is, has a focus on the threatening negatives of life and love relating. It is about defending against what can go wrong and shielding us and those we love. Healthy, real love works best when it is dominated by a positive focus on what can go right.  Doing love well usually requires a positive focus.  Protective love, therefore, must be secondary and assistive and must only be the primary way to go about love in times of distinct threat, marked danger and eminent distress. When protective love takes up too much time, energy and effort, it can crowd out the great, positive joys of love. 

As always – Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: Do you know somebody you might like to tell about, or talk over with, these ideas?  If so, you probably will grow from doing that and so will they.  You also might tell them of our free, mini-love-lesson website.

Love Success Question: Who could use some more of your protective love attention?

Number 51: Your Super Tool for Healthy Self-Love

Synopsis: A salvation and success case starts this mini-self-love-lesson; the 51 story follows; core okayness; okayness voters; voters from your past; and the importance of 51 not 100 are all explained here.

Saved by Number 51

Until Cally learned to use the simple, number 51, super tool  her head was often filled with painful thoughts that others were looking down on her, seeing her as inadequate, ugly, stupid, not good enough, socially inept and generally inferior.

What others thought of her she was sure was always negative, disapproving and probably correct.  She was quite sure that no one could look at her or listen to her without having good reason to criticize her.  Her self-esteem, self-confidence, self approval and worst of all her healthy self-love all were nearly nonexistent.  This was true even though, by objective measurement, at most things she was at least average, or a little better, and sometimes even good to excellent at some things.  When people pointed this out to her she felt embarrassed and she thought, not only were they mistaken, but she worried that they were making fun of her, or lying to her because they wanted something.

Cally tried to do everything as good as she could, but it was never good enough to compare to how good other people did.  She always was comparing herself to others and coming up short.  Worst of all she was quite sure no one would ever love her or want to be in a love relationship with such an inferior person.  Cally lived with a pervasive sense of agonizing inferiority, almost constantly torturing herself with her own self-critical thoughts.  If she did hear some critical remark, or something she could interpret as such, it was like knives piercing her.  If a person frowned in her direction, she would try to leave as quickly as possible to escape the terribly tormenting looks of disapproval.

One day by accident Cally ran into Charles.  She remembered him from high school as the boy she kind of liked because he seemed so like herself, but he had dropped out after his serious suicide attempt.  Charles seemed happy to see her and was quite upbeat.  That was so unlike the boy she remembered.  He asked her to go to lunch and she shyly agreed.  He told her his story of once being sure he was a total loser and how he had become a real winner at life, starting with group therapy in the psychiatric hospital.  Then he learned about the magic of number 51.  This is the story he told her about that wonderful tool he used almost every day.

The 51 Story

Every day you are in an okayness election.  If you let what others think of you, or what you believe they think of you, have over 51% of the vote, you are doing a terrible disservice to yourself.  You are letting others determine your okayness.  When you were a child your parents, or whoever was raising you, had over 51% of the vote on how okay you were.  If they voted you were not okay, they could spank you, scream and shout at you in all sorts of disapproving ways, take your toys away, send you to bed without supper, and by doing things like that at worst they programmed you to subconsciously disapprove of yourself.  Your parents, or whoever, also could reward you, let you do what you wanted to do  and give you things that you could not give yourself.  Your okayness, therefore, was dependent on your parents.

When you were starting into adolescence, mother nature insisted that you give importance to your peer’s opinions of you.  It was vitally important to learn to fit in and hopefully get the approval of your ‘in group’ so that you too might become accepted and perhaps even one day be popular.  Some think this is now genetic because when peers did not approve of you, in caveman days, you could be thrown out of the cave, or the village, and the wolves or tigers would get you.  Fitting in meant survival.  Many people get stuck for their whole lives at that adolescent dilemma level.  They never learn that as an adult you can have 51% of the vote on your own okayness everyday.

Thus, both in childhood and adolescence you were learning to give your vote and your personal power away.  But now you can become a full adult and keep everyone else’s votes down at the 49%, or less, level.  If all the world thinks you are terrible but if you vote for yourself, you win the election and feel okay.  If all the world thinks you are marvelous but you, as an adult objectively and realistically can prove that to be untrue, you win that election too, and you are not quite okay just yet.  However, that only means you have some improvement work to do.  You have to be careful here.  It could be subconscious programming from the highly critical, or the  nay sayers of your earlier life that are trying to steal your ‘I’m okay’ vote from you.

See Your Core Okayness

Do you see that the fact you can read this mini-love-lesson proves that you are a miracle of the universe.  Not only that you are a one-of-a-kind, unique, bundle of miracles and even if you have a twin, no one is exactly like the incredible and individual work of art that you are.  Even a rock is a miracle but you are so much more than that.  You are born with miraculous, intrinsic value which you can appreciate, honor and own.  Therefore, you have ‘being’ value.

What you do may or may not add a lot of ‘doing’ value or ‘product’ value” as you go through life.  Think about it.  Newborn babies do not do anything except eat, sleep, poop and perhaps cause difficulty and yet they are regarded as having great importance, or in other words ‘intrinsic value’.  You continue to have that intrinsic value all your life.  Just because there are a lot of us on the planet it does not diminish that.

Now, your job is to ‘own’ your intrinsic and unique value, and be in awe of it, and then be delighted to know that it is ‘the core essential you’.  Thinking that way is a suggested startup focus for growing your self approval, and going on to a full sense of realizing you are okay enough to vote for yourself, every day, 51% or more.

Who Gets to Vote in Your Okayness Election?

Are you like Cally who used to let everybody and anybody vote in her okayness elections every day?  If you are frequently worried about ‘what do others think or say about you’, ask yourself this question.  “Can the people who you worry about thinking negatively of you have any tangible, real effect in your life?  If they do not, and are not likely to effect your health, or those you care about in any major way, why give them many or even any votes?  Likewise, if they do not, or are not likely to affect your wealth by which you buy your own and your loved one’s lifestyle, why let them have many votes?  Also if you are concerned about what others think, and they do not and are not likely to affect your major opportunities in life, or the opportunities of those you care about, why should they get lots of votes in your okayness election.

Maybe you would like to give them a few votes so you can consider their input but certainly not anything close to 51% or more.  If you care about what the neighbor down the street thinks about you, and they have no likely major effect on your health, wealth or opportunities, you can start saying to yourself things like “Neighbor, I will give your input a little consideration but not much.  I’m the one who effects my life the most, and so if you approve of me and my doings that’s nice, and if you don’t, you get no vote in my feeling okay about myself”.

If a policeman is giving you a ticket, care a lot about what he thinks for a short time because he may carry a gun and can affect your health in a really major way.  Care about what your boss thinks because he signs your paycheck and can effect your wealth, and the lifestyle it buys, for you and yours.  Just as the people who live in another nation do not vote in your nation’s elections, do not let those who are not going to really effect your life have more votes than you have for yourself.  You can, in fact, give them no votes at all.

Voters from Your Past

Do you have a ‘committee in your head’ that is constantly criticizing you for one thing or another?  Do you have, living in your head, copies of critical parents or other family members who were negative or abusive to you when you were growing up?  Are those subconscious copies talking against you or putting you down, still telling you, you are not okay today?  Do you worry about what ‘they’ say, or ‘they’ think, and do you know who the ‘they’ really are?

Usually ‘they’ turn out to be people no longer in your life, like those in your teenage years when ‘fitting in’ and peer acceptance seemed so vitally important?  Sometimes ‘they’ are a sort of vague understanding of what you have been taught to believe is ‘everybody’.  Whoever that is in your thoughts, the truth is there are lots of other humans not thinking, or doing, and not even concerned about what you were taught that mattered and was ‘normal’.

It may take some work but you can disenfranchise all these subconscious voters.  Cally and Charles both found that emphatically saying to themselves things like, “You high schoolers in my head, who did not include me in your popular ‘in group’, you no longer matter and you get no more chances to vote in my okayness elections”.  Charles also found saying similar things to the memory of his father, who had physically and severely emotionally abused him, made him feel strong and happy. He said, “Growing up I dared not ever talk back, but now I can, and I finally have been able to completely silence my father’s horrible voice in my head”.

51 but Not 100

One cautionary note, it is important to hear the input of others and especially give those you love both freedom of speech and significant votes in your okayness election but still retain 51% for your own okayness.  Giving 100% to anybody would be too much.  We do best with multiple and diverse views being taken into account.  Now use the ‘51′ tool and vote for yourself!!!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Right now, can you powerfully say to yourself something like, “I vote myself okay!  Even if the rest of the world votes I am not okay, I still win the election!  I will listen to what the rest of the world says to me, about me, but because I have healthy self-love it will only count up to 49% or less of the vote on me.  I also will work to keep improving, taking in suggestions, but never giving all my power away to what others think or say.”