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Love’s Wrong Definition in Your Head???


Mini-Love-Lesson  #272 

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

Our Unconscious Beliefs About Love

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

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

The Most Popular Wrong Definition of Love

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

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

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

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

Dictionary Deficiencies

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

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

Feeling Love Without Doing Love

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

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

What about Feeling Attraction, Romantic and Sexual Passion?

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

Our Definition of Love

Healthy real love is a powerful, vital, natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for and taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved.

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

Feelings with Actions

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

Loves Functions

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

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

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

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

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

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

Exes And Love

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson explores exes who continue to love each other after a breakup or divorce; sibling type exes’ love; new loves and ex loves; what to do about your love mate’s love of an ex; divorcing marriage but not each other; enemies of exes love; and ends with a discussion of a basic law of love which may apply to exes.

Exes Who Continue Loving Each Other

What do you think about exes (ex-spouse, ex-mate, etc.) who actively love one another after they have divorced or broken up?  Here are a few quotes to consider.  “My ex and her new guy are going on a double date with me and my new wife”.  Can that double date go well?  “I’m inviting both of my former husbands to my family Christmas dinner.  It just wouldn’t seem right not to.”   What might be the best and worst of that dinner, as you see it?  Now, think about this one, “my ex-wife and I still date each other but also date others.  We have sex, we also go on short trips together, sometimes with the kids.  We love each other a lot but we know we cannot be married to one another.  We tried that twice. This works far better.”  The people who said these things live in the belief that post-divorce love can be quite real, successful and ongoing.  So, what do you suppose it takes to accomplish that?  Here are some things to look at.

Sibling Exes’ Love

Some who married discover they have grown to have a love for each other more like close siblings or cousins, instead of like spouses.  When this happens they may compatibly end the legal marriage, and revamp their relationship into looking a lot like adult brothers and sisters who go through life lovingly, being a part of each other’s life.  They usually see and treat their exes as part of their ongoing established family.  This, of course, is especially good if children are involved.  This is not such an unusual outcome for couples who have conjoint, well counseled divorces.  If their ex gets married they usually gladly attend the marriage and get to know their exe’s new spouse, just like a sibling might.

New Loves and Ex Loves ?

What’s the best thing for you to do with a new love and an ex?  New love partners, of course, may feel very threatened by an ex.  That can be especially true if a new love partner has low, healthy self-love, or if they have a habit of seeing others as their enemy or rival.  In that case giving lots of reassurance can be very helpful.  If there is really bad jealousy, resentfulness, etc., going to good couples counseling together can help fix the problem.  There is a general rule to consider.  Usually it’s a good idea for two people in a new love relationship to try to love, or at least like, each other’s loved and liked family and friends.  That can include exes. Certainly, that is especially useful when there are children involved.

What About Your Wife/Husband/Love Mate’s Love Of An Ex?

Hear Larry’s lament.  “My wife told me she still loves her ex, though she loves me more and in a very different way than she loves him.  What am I to do with that?  Should I insist she never see or talk to him again?  Should I threaten to break up with my wife and destroy our family?  Should I hate him and try to drive him off; or tell him to never have anything to do with her?  Or should I accept him and try to make friends with him?  If I do that I’ll probably need a lot of reassurance from my wife that she will not go back to him?  And we will need to work to make sure my wife and I have such a strong, good love that there’s no chance of there being any real threat?  Or should I just ignore the whole thing?”

All these reactions are what some people do when faced with this kind of issue.  Generally the more loving and inclusive the response, the better the results.  It is true that some exes do indeed try to get a former love mate back.  Openly talking about that with your love mate, and jointly deciding on how to handle it can be very important.  With a joint couples approach to what is perceived as a threat by one, usually gets the best results for all.

Divorcing Marriage, But Not Each Other

There are a surprising number of people who discover they have an incompatibility with marriage itself.  Joni and Johnny put it this way, “We lived together for three years doing great, and then we got legally married and everything went off the cliff and we crashed.  It’s like both of us stepped on a landmine together the day we got married and it blew us apart.” On examination, both discovered that because of the way they saw their parents do marriage with anger, frustration, depression, constant conflict, agony and much suffering, getting legally married triggered subconscious programs in both their heads causing them to do marriage just like their parents did.  Legal divorce cured that, and made successfully living together possible again.

For most couples with this kind of problem it is not nearly as dramatic and clear-cut as it was for Joni and Johnny.  A lot of couples slowly drift into a destructive pattern, triggered by getting married or living married.  Some, with the help of good couples counselors, manage to re-program their way of reacting to marriage itself and do much better.  For others divorce seems to be necessary.

Then there are those people who just do not do well living a married lifestyle, but they don’t want to lose the person they have strong, spouse-type love for.  Some of these couples have been known to remarry each other several times trying to make standard marriage work. Others arrive at a ‘custom tailored, alternate lifestyle’ allowing them to keep relating to one another in an ongoing, love-filled way but it doesn’t look like standard marriage.  This often involves a divorce and at least a portion of their life being lived more like a single person.

Enemies of Exes Love

In a healthy divorce workshop I once led, I asked the participants who they thought were the biggest enemies of healthy post-divorce relating between exes.  The overwhelming response was, “lawyers”, or more exactly “divorce lawyers”.  In our adversarial-oriented justice system, the focus is often on ‘win’ and ‘defeat the other side’, no matter what.  If that is the mindset, it can mean lifelong psychological and relational damage to all concerned, except of course for the lawyers.  Divorce lawyers don’t have to live with the after effects of embattled divorce.  There are a growing number of family practice attorneys who work for cooperative, mutually healthy outcomes.  They often assist  mediation and collaborative processes in order to avoid the all-too-common destructiveness which can occur in the best of adversarial divorce processes.

For a long time our culture has seemed to teach that divorce means you have to become enemies, or at least strangers to someone you may still have love for.  A common advice given to the divorcing goes something like this: “When you divorce you have to divorce your spouse’s family, and then divide your friends, and cut off contact with all those more connected to your ex spouse.”  However, there are a great many people who rebel against that teaching.  More and more of them are succeeding in keeping alive their love relationship with all family and friends, as well as their ex-spouse.

Do you think this idea might be true?  There are those that say it is mostly the people who don’t have real love for each other who have bad divorces.  It does seem to be true that if you want good post-divorce relating with your ex, try to start with a compatible divorce.  However, if you have a terrible divorce that does not mean you can’t work to ‘mend bridges’ and heal wounds after the divorce.  Post-divorce counseling, especially when children are involved, and co-parent guidance counseling can be especially helpful.

Be wary of friends and family, acquaintances too, who want to see divorced people at war with each other.  Some people are very against exes getting along, perhaps because they don’t get along well with their own ex, or they fear people succeeding at divorced living, so they  subtly play a sort of ‘divide and conquer’ game.

A Basic Law of Love?

Do you think that when you have strong, real love for someone, you can shut it off because there is a breakup or divorce?  Do you think that because of the conflicts and agony that lead up to a breakup or divorce, you can really come to hate, or act to harm the ex you were so sure you really loved?  Or can you become truly indifferent about a person you had real love for?  Can the love that you have for someone which motivated you to aid, nurture and protect them change, motivating you to want to harm, deprive and destroy them?  Can healthy, real love work that way?  Some think it can, but most of those who study love deeply disagree. What do you think?

Sometimes we have to become inactive or separate to a person we have love for.  However, that does not mean that ‘way down to the depths of our heart’ we don’t still have love for them.   If it becomes dangerous, destructive or otherwise unworkable to actively relate with an ex, your love may best become dormant but still present in your heart. You may occasionally meditatively tap into that love but not let it lead to any overt action.  Inwardly, you may hope and pray for their well-being but that’s about all.

The Scriptures of several religions which proclaim and promote love, teach that real love is forever.  They put forward the concept that once you truly love someone you will have love for them throughout your life, and perhaps beyond.  That ‘love never ceases’ is a law of love according to many great, spiritual teachers.  What do you think?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
If you felt seriously rejected or betrayed by someone you love, could you (with healthy self-love) protect yourself from further destructive hurt, but still have love for that person?

A Best Gift of Love?

Mini-Love-Lesson  #266

Synopsis:  A wonderfully powerful and useful way to go about enacting healthy, real love via learning and practicing a venerable, Eastern mindset which can be of great benefit to love relationships of all kinds is presented and discussed here, with clear how-to’s given.

Could This Be Your Very Best Gift of Love?

Here is a gift of love that can make every day better than it otherwise would have been.  It is a gift everyone can afford yet it is far too rarely given.  This is a gift the giver often benefits from giving as much, or more than the receiver.  Furthermore, it is one of those few gifts that tends to grow bigger and better every time you give it.  This is a gift which is inclined to brighten dull days, spark up the mundane and make the ordinary just a bit extraordinary.  It is good on happy days, bad days, extraordinary days but especially is it good for blah and boring days.

This gift of love does take some work, some regular and repeated practice, occasional tolerance when there is poor reception, honing and perfecting skills and some perseverance.  There are far more spectacular gifts but very few that can do as much good for making love relationships of all kinds stronger, happier and healthier.  If this gift is not the very best gift you can give, it definitely is in the top five.

What is this gift?  It is the amazing gift of what is known in the East as “Mudita” love! (Spellings vary)

Mudita Love – A Best Practice of Love

Mudita love here means to choose to be happy, joyous and positive on purpose and then give or share that happiness with those you love and care about every day you can, day after day after day.  On days of difficulty you may switch to “Metta” love which essentially refers to loving kindness and/or to “Karuna” love which basically means compassionate love, and on days of conflict to “Upeksha” love according to the Buddhist and Hindu teachings about these forms of love.  The four together are known as the Bramavihara, or four immeasurables of love (other similar titles exist as do ancient Sanskrit and Pali translations).

On most ordinary days, regular days, usual days and so-so days, Mudita love would have you choose to be genuinely happy with a countenance of upbeat joy which you repeatedly present to your loved ones and others of your choice.  This can include everyone you meet and, of course, you also can give this gift to yourself thereby making every day at least a bit better than it might have been.  Thus, this becomes a great way to love others as you love yourself.

A Mudita Love Prerequisite

Mudita love also means doing one other thing that is quite hard for a lot of people to do.  It is an extremely good thing to do but it goes against a very common, Western world, cultural training.  Mudita love requires that you disavow and reject the thinking that we need an outside something or someone to make or cause us to be happy.  That is so difficult for many people because the teaching that happiness is dependent on something or someone outside ourselves has to come along to make or cause our happiness is so prevalent.

Mudita love teaches us we can often be happy just because we choose to be happy.  In fact, we can come to habitually and authentically have a happy, loving positivity as our most regular daily countenance.  At the same time, we still can be happy about good things that come along and special people too.  Likewise, we can be unhappy or upset when appropriate and functionally useful.

How to Learn to Do Mudita Love

There are many ways to learn and do Mudita love.  Here is one.

Start by choosing to act happy whether you feel that way or not.  Remember, often motions lead emotions.  So, smile, say something in happy tones, sing, whistle or hum a happy tune, stride not just walk, and make open arm gestures while standing tall or dancing energetically.  Don't let any nay-saying in your head stop you.  Next, put your focus on things to be happy about.  You are alive, you are breathing, you probably are able to see color, hear music and smell nice scents, read interesting stuff, and so forth.  Yes, all those are quite ordinary and ordinary is to be quite happy about.  Bear in mind, there are lots of people in the world who would be glad to trade what they have for your ordinary.  As you focus on the good stuff more, it also is good to focus on the bad stuff, worrisome stuff, etc. a bit less.  Where you put your focus the most has a lot to do with your healthy happiness.  We need to focus on some of the bad stuff a certain amount so as to understand it and be motivated to do something about it.  However, many over-do that and under-do the positive focusing.

There is evidence that as you do regular and repeated, positive focusing you are causing your brain to regularly and repeatedly make more happiness producing and processing neurochemicals.  In time, that can become your brain’s habitual level of healthful production.  This, in turn, is thought probably to contribute to a sort of habitual tendency toward happiness in many people.  If you are not already, how about becoming one of them?

Next, start practicing giving or sharing your countenance of happiness with those you love and anybody else you choose.  Go do happiness at and around those you love and like.  Later you can try strangers and even enemies.  Keep doing that especially to those who act with indifference or some form of negativity while you practice not letting their lack of positive response steal your happiness from you.

Finally, start leaving out the focus on things that can help you be happy and, instead, just start relying on your choice to be happy.  Keep choosing happiness because it will help you increasingly own that ability.  Remember to keep taking your happiness to your loved ones and others, and doing happiness toward and around them.

Being Happy At !!!

Happiness done toward and around those you love can help them to feel glad, elated, more energized, positive about life, good about themselves and more love-bonded with you.  Likely, it also will help them want you around more, be more positively disposed to your ways and wants, and be more upbeat-cooperative with you.

Being happy toward someone you love or like is very healthy for you and them.  For both of you, Mudita type love likely will reduce destructive hormone production as it lowers stress and stress reaction while also improving immunity functioning and contribute to general well-being and longevity.  Mudita love definitely is a high quality gift of love to give those you love again and again, day after day, plus it is really great for love relationships of every type.  It also is often a fine way to simultaneously love others as you love yourself.

Are There Drawbacks?

There is some evidence that in adulthood many people make themselves about as happy and unhappy as they were programmed to do in childhood, irrespective of what is going on in their adult life.  If that is true, it means you might have a subconscious program for habitual unhappiness that you will have to unlearn as you learn the ways of Mudita love.  Your anti-happiness program may come on stronger as you work to change to the ways of Mudita love.

Sometimes the way others see you starts to change as you grow with happy, Mudita love.  Usually that is good but not always.  Some may envy you and not handle their envy very well.  Worse, others may be jealous of you and try to sabotage your countenance of happiness.  Keep in mind, the envious only want something like what you have but the jealous do not want you to have it at all.  You can show the envious how to get their own Mudita love and, hopefully, spot and dodge the jealous who might try to take it from you.

The Four Immeasurable Ways of Love

Mudita love has a lot of other aspects and facets to learn about, as do the other Buddhist and Hindu "Immeasurable Ways of Love".  What you have here in this mini-love-lesson is just a small starter lesson on the marvelous wealth of useful information about love found in Eastern teachings.  To learn more you might want to do some reading in Buddhist psychology or at the online site of the Brahma Vihara Foundation, perhaps followed by the Teachings of Love, a book by the world acclaimed Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn. (Spellings very)

One More Thing

Mudita love is a great thing to tell somebody about and see what they think.  If you do that, please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons and, hopefully thereby, spread some needed love knowledge around.  As Thich has said, "To love without knowing how to love wounds those we love." (Translations vary a bit)

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable question: Can what you do not know about love be harming your love relationships?

How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better

Synopsis: A note on ongoing love; then getting a grasp of what is good and bad love reception starts our mini-love-lesson; leading to how to really receive love – part one having to do love mindfulness and really getting it, which is followed by part two on how to give love back by showing you truly got it.

Ongoing Love Is a Game of Pitch, Catch and Throw Back

First you have to notice love is coming your way, then you have to react to really catch it well and not let it go by or drop it, then you have to accomplish a good return pitch.

Good and Bad Love Reception

When love comes your way, do you do a good job of receiving it?  Some people are so bad at receiving love they unknowingly get themselves love-starved.  They also unknowingly may be turning off people from trying to love them.  That can ruin a love relationship.  Those who are really good at love reception are better nourished and more energized by the love they receive.  In the act of good love reception, someone good at love reception sends love back to the previous love sender.  This greatly helps to form and maintain a love-generating, love-bonding, and love-cycling love relationship.

Poor receivers dishearten and disappoint the people they love, and even may cause them to feel rejected and futile in their attempts to give love.  Poor receivers also model and, therefore,  program or unintentionally may teach their children to become poor receivers.  Good receivers do exactly the opposite.  Those who are good at love reception generally are much more liked, befriended, included and assisted than are those who are poor at love reception.

It turns out that receiving love well is an excellent way to actually send love to someone.  It is one of the eight major types of behavior by which a person can directly help another person thrive on love.  (See “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love” mini-love-lessons at this site).  It is for that reason that it can be called Receptional Love and can be listed along with the other seven major types of behavior that convey love discovered by the massive research efforts in social psychology to understand love started by the eminent Dr. Clifford Swensen.

How to Receive Love Well: Part One

If someone sends you a statement of love, a gift of love, a loving touch, a loving look or any of the other ways that show and convey love, what do you do with it?  First, of course, you have to notice it.  Sadly many people are very poor at noticing the love that is coming their way.  They have been programmed, even self-trained to be so focused on a great many other things that they totally miss the love that actually is there for them.  Next, they have to count it.  Once a love action is noticed it is important to value it.

Here is an example.  A child, in an act of love toward a parent, goes to the trouble of making a picture.  Maybe they go to a lot of trouble making the picture, really taking time with it.  Then they present it to their parent as a gift of love.  If the parent is busy with something else, like talking to someone, and the parent takes the picture but does not look at it and instead places it aside on a pile of other papers, where soon it will be buried by other papers; this parent has sent a message which says to the child, your gift of love is of no value.

If that or similar things happen at crucial times, and far too often, the child may learn not to behave with love.  This child also may learn to feel unworthy, insignificant and even unlovable since loving behavior did not came back.  Someday the parent may be asking, why don’t my children want to visit me, contact me, or show any signs that they love me?  The parent also may wonder why their children have so much trouble with their own love relationships.

All was not lost.  If the parent later were to come back to the child holding the picture, and with warm tones of voice and a smile say they have been looking at the picture, and soaking up what a fine gift of love the picture is, and how they will cherish it, and give it a place of honor in a scrapbook, they may have amended sufficiently their former poor love reception, and turned it into an act of good receptional love.

Love Mindfulness

It is the same with adults, only with complications.  First notice, then take time to value or ‘count’ the demonstrations of love coming your way.  Maybe you say to yourself, “He (or she) is holding my hand and that’s showing me some love, so I will let myself fully notice it and value it”.  The next step is to let yourself more fully feel it.  Don’t let your mind go off somewhere else.  Stick with the fact that your hand is being held and that means some love can come in.  Maybe you tell yourself, with a bit of a deeper breath, “I feel it; I’m being loved and I feel it,  I am letting myself fully feel that this person holding my hand is loving me right now; I digest it; I absorb it and I let it nourish me”.

I have heard people who are learning this mindfulness technique say, “I don’t have time for all that”.  Sometimes I reply, “You don’t have maybe 15 seconds, even the 20 or 30 seconds it will take to do that?  You don’t have time to feel loved?  What will that do to you in the long run”?  Usually they then begin to try what I’m suggesting they do, to absorb and digest the love that comes their way.  You can do the same.  Bear in mind, it does take practice and repetition to do it well.

Lots of love comes to us through statements.  Those statements of love often are accompanied by loving looks and loving tones of voice.  There may be a loving gesture or posture change (known as expressional love) like opening arms to us or leaning forward toward us.  It is important we become mindful of all that, along with the words.  In this way you get the whole behavioral love gift and not just part of it.  If your beloved says “I love you” and all you do is snap back with “I love you too”, that is nice but usually it is not deep or nearly all you could be experiencing.  If you take a couple of seconds to look into your beloved’s face and say to yourself something like “I’m being told ‘you’ ‘love’ ‘me’, and that’s important.  I am taking it in, and I am absorbing it,.  I am letting myself fully feel it and know it”.  It is when we learn to do things like that, that we can much more fully receive love in a deep way and really be nourished by it.

Sometimes love comes to us through much bigger actions which take longer than a simple statement or an act like holding your hand.  It is appropriate to take a lot longer to focus on, strongly value, and more deeply absorb those demonstrations of love.  To feel precious and cherished by ongoing actions of love, to let ourselves feel honored by the day-to-day ways we are loved, to let ourselves feel highly valued by loving thoughtfulness, kindness, assistance, support and the many other ways we are loved also is highly important. By doing so, we help our loved ones succeed at loving us.  Healthy, real love partly comes our way from those who truly love us, so that love accomplishes its goal of benefiting us, because this is what love does.  Letting love do exactly that by absorbing it well, lets those who love us achieve one of love’s great goals.  Anything that depletes good, full reception, helps inhibit love.

Training your mind not to let anything interfere with taking some time to really feel and absorb the love coming of your way helps.  You can train yourself to do a good job of part one of receptional love.  At first it may take more practice that you might think but like anything if you keep practicing you get better at it, and you begin to notice the good feelings and many other benefits that result.  It may feel odd, strange, or unusual if you have not been doing this sort of thing.  With repeated work, you can join the happy people who know how to receive love well and let it nourish them.

How to Receive Love Well: Part Two

Now, as you work on really noticing, valuing, absorbing, and therefore, letting yourself fully feel loved, there is another big, important thing to do.  This is to do a good job of showing that you are getting the love being sent your way.  If somebody hands you a ‘love gift’ and you just say “thanks”, and put it down, and you don’t do much more, that is not very good reception.  If you take it for granted, that shows you do not sincerely and honestly notice, value and absorb it which may also show that you are not giving back the gift of good receiving.

If someone says words of love to you and you act as if nothing happened, or you only return some perfunctory politeness, that probably will not do the job of good love reception either.  Being truthful also is important.  The truth best be that you have really noticed with appreciation (valued) and felt (absorbed) the love demonstration that came your way.  Even if the ‘love action’ coming your way is not really ‘your thing’, you can appreciate the loving gesture behind it and absorb the love itself that is being delivered.

Love Behaviors That Give Love Back

If you are with someone who loves you, and they say or do something loving towards you, and you absorb it, your expressional reaction immediately can give love back.  Expressional love is given by your facial expression – usually a smile, your tonal expression – usually warm and happy tones of voice, a gestural expression – maybe open arms, and a postural expression – leaning in or moving toward the person.  In some situations these may be done in minimal ways like a small nod of the head with just a tiny momentary grin, but usually it is better if the expressional behavior is bigger and more robust.

Tactile behavior such as hugs and kisses, hand and arm squeezes, pats on legs, arms, backs, etc., all can be added to the expressional reaction and all can show you really noticed, value and have absorbed with appreciation the other person’s love action.

Words of thanks and appreciation are great ways to show you got the love sent, and you are sending love back.   There are many love getting and giving situations that can be well done with words, both verbally and in written form.  But be careful not to sound like you are being only dutifully polite.
Gifting, both tangible gifts and experiential gifts, also can be terrifically good in showing someone you truly got their gift of love.  Thank you cards, flowers, and other tangible gifts are great.  Doing someone a return favor, or surprising them in some happy-making way is often the experiential gift that shows you really got and appreciated their gift of love.

Sometimes opening up to a person who has shown you love, returns the love by your self disclosure.  Various ways to show affirmation of a person’s value in your life is especially good for demonstrating receptional love.  Even tolerational love can be tied in with reception love.

More to Learn

This mini-love-lesson is aimed at getting you started toward new and better receptional love behaviors.  There is more to learn about reception love, and especially about how it is key to maintaining lasting love relationships.  To do that learning, you may wish to read other mini-love-lessons at this site having to do with the behaviors of love.  You also can read the section on Receptional Love in my book, Recovering Love, which I am proud to say has especially helped a lot of people with this and related issues.  Another good source is Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt’s book Receiving Love which covers quite a few, in depth factors often involved in this very important topic.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being best, how do you rate yourself on being a good receiver of love, and what are you going to do to help yourself have an even higher score?

Behaviors That Give Love - The Basic Core Four

Synopsis: This mini love lesson gets you started on how to give healthy, real love as a useful step toward also being able to get it; then goes into the four most basic, core types of behavior discovered by research which convey healthy, real love.

How to Give Healthy, Real Love and Then Get It

To get love, learn to give it.  How do you do that, you ask.  A wonderful answer has been given to us by massive, expansive, long-range, wonderfully well done research conducted in social psychology.

That research has discovered 383 distinctive behaviors likely for stimulating feeling loved by the recipients of those behaviors.  Luckily, advanced, astonishing, ‘magical’, statistical analysis techniques now have boiled down all that to just eight simple groups of behavior, which you can learn .  In addition to that, clinical and field work by practitioners of relationship therapy have added all sorts of important goodies to this knowledge.

If you learn, practice and get good at the major ways of sending your love to others, all sorts of improvements in your life become likely.  A ton of research supports that contention.

Many people come to me asking how they can fall in love, become loved, find love, get love, be lovable, etc..  The first thing to do, I suggest, is concentrate and learn how to give healthy, real love.  Then practice and get really good at it.  At this site you can study what healthy, real love truly is and about the eight major categories of behavior that social psychologists and others have discovered which send, demonstrate, deliver and give healthy, real love directly to others. Plus there are four more larger, wide-ranging categories of how love is given, but first get the basics.

Presented here are the basic, core, four major ways to directly give love which lay down a groundwork for learning the rest.  Each of these can be applied to romantic love, spouse love, love of a child, friendship love, and many other types of love, including healthy self-love.

Introducing The Basic, Core Four

1.  Touch Love
Touch, or tactile love, is defined as physical contact which demonstrates loving affection, support, caring, comforting and also sensual and sexual loving, plus the special category of healing touch.  Touching with love perhaps is the most basic and oldest form of demonstrating love.  It probably is the first form of love people experience, usually beginning in the womb and very soon after birth.  Babies who do not receive loving touch die of ‘failure to thrive’ illnesses like marasmus even though they are otherwise well taken care of.

Before loving, holding, cuddling and stroking became part of the care program given to infant orphans, 99.9% of them died before reaching the age of two in the orphanages studied in North America and Europe.  It is feared that older people in various care facilities also may die sooner without loving touch.  There also is evidence to suggest that between those two age groups those who go without loving touch are far more likely to experience all kinds of serious, psychological disorders and perhaps physical ones also.  So, learn to do loving touch – a lot!

Take a look at the following list of words expressing how many different ways loving touch may be done.

Holding, hand holding, petting, stroking, caressing, cuddling, hugging, kissing, embracing, clasping, nuzzling, foot rubbing, snuggling, fondling, squeezing, tapping, light tickling, full body pressing, lap dancing , tease pinching, cupping and at least a dozen others for the sensual and erotic, love expressive, touch actions.

Why not get good at all of them?

Another category of tactile love involves healing touch.  To be lovingly touched when ill or injured, distressed, or in any way dysfunctional is known to be surprisingly healing, including at the physical level.  Wounded areas lovingly touched by someone loving you heal faster and better according to no small number of studies.

2.  Expressional Love
Expressional love probably is the second oldest and also is a very basic, quickly delivered form of showing love.  Expressional love is accomplished by loving expressions in your tones of voice, loving facial expressions, loving gestures and love communicated by posture movements.  If someone you love comes in the room and you stand up (posture movement expression), hold open your arms in welcoming (gesture expression), smile (facial expression) and say “aahh” in a most loving tone of voice (tonal expression) you probably have done a really good job of sending several bits of expressional love.

Most people are surprised to learn that in direct, personal, face-to-face communication only 7% of the communication is carried by the words being spoken.  Tonal expression conveys about 35% of the message and facial, gesture and body motion can convey 55% of the total message.  So, get good at studying what your tones, face, gesture and whole body movements are saying and help them speak of your love to those you love.

Become good at the looks and sounds of love and then it is more likely that those will flow back to you in greater abundance.  When you do this love-bonding becomes far more likely and love relationship health is nourished.  However, don’t do it for those reasons because the mere giving of love action does wonders for you whether you get anything in return from others or not.  Remember, real love is a free gift.

3.  Verbal Love
The words that convey love can add all sorts of power, intricacy, elaboration, understanding and magnificence to the way you deliver your love to another.  Verbal love includes words spoken and words written.  Verbal love simply is defined as the behavior of using words to convey and express love.

The simple “I love you” statements are perhaps the most common form of verbal love.  Pet names, nicknames, terms of endearment like sweetheart, darling, honey, etc., words expressing the many and varied, different emotions caused by love (remember, love itself is not an emotion but a powerful natural process), special made-up words shared only by intimately connecting lovers, words of passion when love is part of the passion, poetic and artful phraseology, positive humorous terms, double meanings, and other very personally expressive and descriptive word-craft all count here in the verbal expressions of love.

4.  Gift Love
Gift love is defined as presenting to a loved one tangible objects, resources, opportunities or experiences aimed at conveying love, and having no component of expecting a return action or object being sought.  Gift love is generally thought of in two major forms: those that are more tangible gifts like things attractively wrapped in boxes but also including resources like finances; and the other form of experience gifts like surprise birthday parties or a picnic date, offering opportunities counts here too like letting someone use your place for the party they are giving.
What is important is to enjoy the giving of the gift and let that be enough.  If the recipient of you gift enjoys it, says thanks, gives you something in return, or shows off your gift or makes laudatory statements to others on your behalf that’s all extra.  ‘Giving to get something back’ is not a gift, it’s a manipulation.

Experience gifts like taking someone to an event they really want to go to, playing music they really like to hear, or providing an opportunity for them to do something adventuresome, beautiful or extraordinary can be among the best of gifts.  For conveying intimate love sometimes unexpected, small gifts like a single rose can be more important than larger gifts like a whole bouquet when presented just right.  Gift love is best considered an ‘art form’ well worth learning and practicing.
To really learn and get into all eight of the major ways of directly giving healthy, real love I, perhaps egotistically, strongly recommend you read my book, Recovering Love, available through amazon.com, iuniverse.com, and others.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Of the above, basic, core, four ways to give love which are you best at and how are you going to get even better at it?