Over 250 FREE mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries worldwide!

For Failing Love: Avoid, or Convert, or Escape?

Mini-Love-Lesson #191
Free over 200 Mini-Love-Lessons Touching the Lives of Thousands in over 190 Countries – Worldwide!

Synopsis: Briefly introduced here are three approaches for dealing with the enormously destructive issue of failing love and how to choose and then get started on each.

Three Strategies for a Huge Problem

Love relationships that fail are a monumentally tragic life-harming and life-destroying problem for countless millions all over the world!  Agonizing breakups, anxiety filled separations, divorce resulting depression, loveless ongoing mutual-misery marriages, addiction relapses, relationship suicides and murders, wounded children, relational related abuse, loneliness, empty life problems and much more – all common outcomes of failing love.
What to do about failing love baffles and confounds so many people.  Perhaps you are one of them or someone dear to you struggles with this issue.

To help cut through the enormous confusion about failing love here are three basic strategies or approaches known to help people think more clearly to get past failing love and then go on to successful, healthy love.


If you are not now in a heart–mate type love relationship, or if you think you are in love and do not want it to turn into a failing love, or if you have couple troubles and do not wish to go further into failure here are some things you can do.  Learn to identify and avoid what leads into failure.  Do not just study what goes wrong but discover what leads up to and precedes failure.  You can do this both in small-scale and large-scale ways as well as for short-term and long-term patterns and situations.  Do not forget to look at your own preceding contributions to triggering or causing failure events.  Major love failures are often built out of a series of mini-love-failures which possibly could have been avoided.

I am biased but I heartily recommend you and your loved ones study the dozen, big, false love patterns found in our book, Real Love False Love , so you can be sure to avoid them.  As you are right now, you can keep studying the free mini-love-lessons that have to do with identifying and avoiding the traps and tragedies of love gone wrong found at this site.  We especially recommend working on identifying and avoiding anti-love, pseudo-love and non-love communications and behaviors.

Who to avoid and why also is an important area of study and learning that is an act of healthy self-love.  Sadly, some people subconsciously are programmed to be attracted to, and to fall in false love with only those who will hurt, harm and destroy them.  Sharpening your own personal love knowledge of who you might be vulnerable to and how to avoid dangerous, self-sabotaging situations can be love-protective and life-protective.  Lots of people get into bad-for-them relationships and have repeating love failures because they don’t do this.

Probably most major love failures, traps and tragedies could have been and can be avoided by those who learn how to identify and avoid.  So work on your failure avoidance skills and free yourself to go on to the wonders, marvels and happiness of healthy, real and successful love.


A great many people in failing love relationships find they can convert failure to success if they work at it in the right ways, hard enough and long enough.  Sadly, a great many other people do not do this.  That also is true for every type of love relationship: parent, child, friend, family, comrade, self, etc. –  all forms of love can improve with work.  By way of recent really good research, we finally are learning what truly works to make love success.  You can learn that too, and you are started or are progressing on that love learning path right now because you are reading this.

The feedback we get tells us many of our mini-love-lessons have helped a large number of individuals, couples, families and others convert failing love to successful love.  Also, I am proud to say our book, Recovering Love,  is about converting failing love to successful love and for years has been helping couples, and also especially couples facing addiction issues.  Furthermore, the third major section of Real Love False Love contains some powerful how to’s for converting false love to real love.

Lots of other books, classes, retreats, workshops, couple’s counseling groups, and support groups, couple’s counselors and family therapists are very beneficial in helping people discover what it takes to convert failing love to successful love.  Consider availing yourself of any and all of that.
Lots of people give up too soon or they just do not go about the work of learning and practicing what works for healthy, real, love relating.

Ovid, the great Roman poet and teacher of love, in the year 01 taught two things that apply here.  First “if you would be loved – be lovable” and second “lasting love requires skill”.  So, if you would convert love failure to love success, get busy developing your love skills and do not ever quit.


If you are in a failing love relationship that keeps failing in spite of you and your spouse’s or heart mate’s best efforts over time, if the relationship is physically and/or psychologically increasingly debilitating and/or dangerous and destructive, healthy self-love demands that you consider escaping.  Trying endlessly in a deteriorating, destructive situation probably will just harm or destroy you, wound kids if they are involved, hurt or harm some others and likely enable your spouse’s dysfunction and decline.

Escape allows recovery and repair, followed by doing yourself and others more good than if you had remained in a destructive trap.  You might even go back to him or her some day, but don’t unless you and hopefully your ex are far stronger and more powerfully love skilled.

Escaping a failing love relationship almost always is hard, painful conflicted and confusing but, if it means survival and not wasting your life, it could be the only healthy thing to do.  It also often can be the only way to help children, family, friends and even the other person in the relationship.

At this site, there is lots of totally free information that can help in making a healthful for all concerned escape.  Furthermore, in the last third of Real Love False Love there is a very helpful, strong section on healthful escape.

After escape from a destructive and failing love relationship, you may do best to engage in a lot of healthy, self-love, recovery work.  Do not just stay wounded forever like some do.  We humans are meant to heal and go on to more and better living.  After escape, study how to avoid love failures in the future.  If you escape from a seriously failing love relationship do you really want to go through getting into another similar situation from which you need to escape again?

I hope you will go on to a love-successful life enriched by all that love can bring.  So, do your homework, study love and make that more likely.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Exactly what will you do next for learning more about how to avoid failing love, convert failing love to successful love, or escape toxic, destructive, failing and false love?

Conflict, Power and Love Success

Mini-Love-Lesson   #190
FREE over 200 Mini-Love-Lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries – worldwide!

Synopsis: How successful loving couples powerfully succeed at handling disagreements, differences, opposing views and conflicts in three surprisingly different patterns is the focus of this mini-love-lesson.

The Best Use of Power When in Conflict

Sooner or later, every love relationship has conflict.  Some relationships are destroyed by it, some survive but are damaged, others repair fully and are even better than before while still other love relationships thrive on conflict right from the start.  What makes the differences?

Sooner or later, every love relationship has power issues whether they know it or not.  That is because it takes power to get anything done.  In love relationships, especially those called couples, families and comradeships, enormous amounts of hard to do things get done.  In the doing, conflicts arise and harmonious, effective teamwork power often is not easily achieved but when it is, everything is better and everybody usually is benefited.

Sooner or later, every couple has love issues because the giving, getting, growing and cycling of love effects and is effected by every couple’s way of handling conflicts and power issues.  It is the successful ways loving couples use power to handle conflict and differences with each other that concerns us here.

The Surprising 3 Most Love Successful Ways

Couples research into what works along with clinical analysis, has discovered three main ways or patterns of successfully dealing with power issues and conflict.  They are rather different from what the experts have previously thought and taught.  The titles, descriptions and details vary from study to study and presentation to presentation.  Here these three couple patterns of successfully dealing with conflicts and power issues are introduced and synthesized, summarized and given the following descriptive names.

The first one I call the Avoid and Finesse pattern, the second is the Volatile and Confronting pattern and the third is the Validating and Affirmational pattern.  Each of these patterns has its own benefits and advantages as well as its own drawbacks and dangers.  All three patterns involve couples who have been evaluated as healthfully having real love for each other.  They also have been measured as relationally positive in various ways such as being generally happy, stable and constructively functional.

1. Avoid and Finesse  When difficulties arise the successful couples using this approach work hard at avoiding directly confronting and conflicting with each other over the issues involved in the difficulty.  They tend to bring up that which is positive about their relationship and about each other more often.  They only very indirectly address the areas of possible contention, if at all.

At first they seem to, sort of, non-verbally agree to live with whatever is the source of this dissonance or disagreement perhaps to see if time alone will help solve the problem.  However, with close observation over time they can be seen to be gently, with finesse, handling the difficulty individually and then as a couple.   It is interesting that this can be done completely nonverbally by some couples using this system.  Eventually any lasting areas of possible dissonance and discord are verbally dealt with gently, in little bit segments, often starting with the easiest parts first.

Avoiding and finessing couples tend to be quite patient, kind, very seldom rude and genuinely nice to each other.  They highly value being in harmony with each other which is far more important to them than being right, defeating or winning over the other one.

It is not that the areas of continuing disagreement are forever unattended to.  Rather they are slowly and much more indirectly, subtly and carefully handled.  Compromise and synthesis-evolving-solutions are grown rather than openly confronted and decided.  In this system there is much less strong, negative, emotional expression.  There also sometimes is more strongly expressed positive emotion leading up to, during and after dealing with areas of oppositional disagreement and dissonance.

These couples usually are very comfortable with each other and see no reason to change this Avoid & Finesse style of dealing with conflicting opinions and opposing points of view.  If one person does get negative, the other frequently empathetically listens longer and then just counterbalances the negativity by being more lovingly positive.  That usually brings the other one back to a more love-positive way of interacting.  Sometimes the more okay-feeling spouse or love mate will directly but kindly ask their beloved to start returning to a more positive state and that clear, direct request usually is accepted.

Fairly good, healthy self-love seems to underlie this process for both people in the couple’s relationship.  In areas involving personal weakness, poor functioning and low competence leading to difficulties these couples tend to be very mutually supportive and cooperative with very little blaming or demeaning.  Gentle challenging for desired improvements does occur.

One big drawback and danger to the Avoid and Finesse style has to do with dealing with difficulties demanding quick resolution.  Another has to do with intractable problems that cannot be improved on without conscious, direct, interactive discussion.  Also some unsolved or unimproved conflict areas result in individuals repressing or suppressing negative feelings for a time, which then is followed by cathartic explosion.  At such times, these couples may distance themselves overlong from each other but usually then come back together, make up and go on.  There is also the danger that some couples get stuck in just avoiding and never get to the finessing improvements and resolution part.  This can be deeply destructive if it leads to a growing lack of self-disclosure loving and the closeness that brings.

Sometimes such couples, for various other reasons, go to family or couple’s counseling and meet with a therapist who thinks direct confrontation is the only way to go.  That might result in more harm than good being done.

2. Volatile and Confronting  Successful couples prone to using this style of dealing with difficulties and disagreements quickly become intensely, persuasively and assertively emotional.  They appear to enjoy arguing, teasing and provoking each other as they each combatively argue for their own case.
However, angry sounds, looks and gestures frequently are accompanied by occasional shared laughter, clever remarks, witty comebacks and even compliments when a point is well made.  Vigorous and heated debate is treated rather like a game and sometimes leads into passionate, aggressive style sex.  To outsiders including counselors and therapists, this style can look like purposeful, harmful fighting and destructive dysfunction.

It is important to note that couples using the Volatile & Confronting style, though arguing passionately, usually are doing three very positive things.

First, they are avoiding being seriously demeaning, personally insulting or trying to tear down each other.

Second, both are doing a good job of what is sometimes called owning their own okayness.  Therefore, they are not letting a sense of personal okayness be robbed from them by anything the other one says or does.  Thus, by way of strong, healthy self-love they both remain independent and free to clash vigorously.

Individually, both count on the other to remain emotionally okay during this fight style interaction.  If anyone’s feelings do get hurt by taking something the other one said too personally, they usually quickly convert to reparative, comforting interactions.  Later they go back to vigorous, confrontive sparring rather more carefully than at first.

Third, Volatile & Confronting couples tend to occasionally punctuate even the most volatile of their arguments with love-positive messages.  Not infrequently, this is done with brief, loving smiles, gestures, touches or words of love, respect and high valuing of each other.

Surprisingly, this often results in a final synthesis of opposing views and arrival at a solution to the difficulties better than either one of them could have individually devised.  Harmony between them usually then quickly follows.

Counselors not familiar with this kind of love-successful-interaction sometimes label such couples as high risk and dysfunctional.  In truth, they usually are among the most stable, happy and generally successful of couples.  They also tend to be among the more highly romantic, sexual, playful and lively of couples.

Drawbacks include sometimes having difficulty achieving serenity, patience, tenderness and understanding people who take offense easily.  They also can be misidentified as intolerant, combative and difficult.  They also may get in trouble handling relationship rivals or threats too aggressively.

    3. Validating & Affirmational  Successful couples who deal with relational dissonance issues in the Validating & Affirming style tend to be much calmer and more easy going while handling disagreements openly and directly with each other.  They fairly frequently are prone to intersperse oppositional statements with affirmational messages delivered with positive, upbeat tones and happy, loving looks.  They are more prone to active-loving-listening to each other longer and asking interested questions for further knowledge and clarification.  They tend to do this at some length before undertaking the teamwork of attempting solution building.  It is obvious that they usually treat each other quite kindly and with mutual respect.

This style leads to them being happily comfortable with each other as they face differences and difficultly.  Praises and compliments, with an openness to each other’s ideas, helps them to be very co-functional and positive as they mutually process oppositional points of view.  Occasionally they can become rather argumentative but, even there, they are reciprocating positive looks, gestures, facial expressions , voice tones, etc..  They definitely have a democratic approach but if they do fight they make up easier and quicker with more forgiveness than do many other couples.

Couples using the Validating & Affirming system are very consensus prone.  They have an approach characterized by unless we both win, we both lose and our love relationship loses.  Seldom, if ever, is there a one of us has to win and the other loses orientation.

Good-natured humor and increasingly growing to accept each other’s influence characterizes their relational growth over time.  Like the other successful, happy and lasting couples, expressions of love-positive words and actions occur more frequently than anything that could be called anti-love or love-negative, even when conflicting with each other.

Of all styles, couples using the Validating & Affirming approach are the best at conjoint (team) functioning.  Counter-intuitively, the tendency of this joint way of operating is seen as highly contributory to both partner’s individuality and personal actualization.  Also this system seems to make such couples quite proud of each other and their union.

Couples who tend to be Validating & Affirming are the happiest and healthiest of our three kinds of successful couples but there is one big danger.  If one of them gets unusually unhappy or negative about something, the other member of the couple may also automatically get unhappy rather than remaining more emotionally-up and able to help.

That especially can occur with a lack of understanding or self-disclosure about what is wrong.  In turn, that may give rise to the growth of various suspicions and magnified fears.  This, in turn, can lead to considerable misunderstanding and discordant miscommunication along with pronounced anxiety.  Serious escalation of difficulty may result and become quite destructive.

This is a situation which Volatile and Confronting couples tend to handle quicker and best, and one which Avoiding & Finessing couples usually dodge.

Becoming  Power Usage  and Conflict Resolving Successful

With the help of arriving at a good conflict handling system, individuals and couples can change, improve, repair if needed and can go on to bigger, better, healthy real love.  This includes couples working at learning to much more successfully deal with conflicts, disagreements and discord in their relationship.  This, of course, takes well-informed conjoint (team) effort.  With such effort, couples can become conjointly, harmoniously and wonderfully powerful and, thus, successful in the ways described above.  That is the challenge facing you and all of us.

The Big Problem of Mismatches

When, in a couple’s relationship, one partner uses one of these three styles and the other uses another style, big relational problems can result.  It is like one of them is playing football, and the other basketball and both can’t understand why the other one doesn’t play right.  Both are likely to try getting the other to do it their way, but not know how to achieve that goal.  Couples counseling with love-knowledgeable counselors and therapists can help.

I recommend checking out therapists credentialed by their countries’ marriage and family therapy professional accreditation organizations, and especially those trained in the well researched Arts and Science of Love (ASL) approach created by Doctors John and Julie Gottman, and those trained in the Emotions Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) of Dr. Sue Johnson.  Information to do so can be found online via standard search engines.  The above, as well as others and my own considerable clinical experience, have contributed to the research and clinical views informing this mini-love-lesson.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question  Which of the three styles of dealing with opposing views and conflicts in a couple’s relationship (or other close relationship) may fit you best?

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?

Cuddling for Greater Love and Better Sex - a Love Skill

Mini-Love-Lesson #189

Synopsis: How cuddling leads to more and better sex as well as to love itself; the fine and healthy benefits of cuddling; overcoming cuddling resistance and reluctance; plus how to give, get, start and restart better and longer cuddling are all covered in this mini-love-lesson.

Cuddling around the World

They studied over 70,000 people in 24 different countries.  It was the same everywhere.  Those who cuddled often tended to have better sex lives and better love fulfilled relationships.  Those who did not engage in cuddling much didn’t.  Not only that but those who expressed affection more often and more freely including doing so in public and those who frequently kissed passionately along with affectionate touch in a variety of ways had the best sex and all over the best loving relationships.  The easiest place to read about all this is in a book called the Normal Bar which gives an easy, fun to read overview of this amazing study from the world of social psychology.

Now, I will brag a bit.  Kathleen McClaren RN and I discovered and published in a major sex therapy Journal something very similar way back in 1982.  In our research we added training in eight types of love behaviors to standard sex therapy behavior training and got a 50% plus improvement over just standard sex therapy with couples in sex therapy.  In our second study the sex therapists we trained got similar results.  Sad to say, the field of sex therapy then didn’t seem to be much interested in love or love conveying behaviors and so nothing much came of our findings at that time.

What’s Special about Cuddling?

When we cuddle especially in spoon cuddling, or when nude, a lot of our skin gets involved.  Furthermore, our skin tends to be stimulated in a longer way than in hugs and other forms of loving touch.  This means several, larger, good things are likely to be happening in our brain and nervous system.  Neurochemically oxytocin, the chemical compound that helps us with feeling love-connected, tends to be produced more abundantly, along with other feel-good brain chemistry.

There also is some evidence suggesting we become more neuroelectrically in harmony with each other but we are not quite sure what that does for us.  The evidence suggests that with cuddling you are likely to feel more love-bonded, happier, safer, more comfortable, more relaxed and have lowered stress.
If your cuddling becomes mutually sexual, then a lot of added pleasures are possible. However, it is important that sex not occur in at least about half of the cuddling experiences or the love feelings may diminish even if the sexuality continues to be good.

Will My Sex Live & My Love Life Improve with More & Better Cuddling?

The answer to this question is probably a strong yes!  Our research found most couples could learn and maintain better love behavior, both in and out of sex, with some love and sex behavior skills’ training added together and practiced for a while.  Also behaviors which interactively expressed and demonstrated the emotions being felt, particularly feeling loving and loved, were especially important both in and outside of sexual interaction.

What About Cuddling Reluctance And Resistance?

A sizable minority of people have trouble with cuddling even though they hear how much most other people greatly enjoy it.  The reasons vary greatly and are often unknown consciously.  There are a small number of people whose epidermis is hypersensitive and for whom touch can be unpleasant or even painful.  There is a far larger group who had negative or even traumatic experiences associated with cuddling or cuddling-like touch.

So, they tend to avoid it because of the conscious or subconscious feeling-memories it brings up.  For another group it is too pleasurable and/or to easily sexual, and they tend to cut short time spent cuddling, not wanting to get sexual at that time.  Also if people grew up in a non-cuddling family, or in a family that did only very short cuddling, their habit may be to do the same.

Some couples let cuddling fade out of their regular ways of showing love to each other.  That can occur due to lengthy recovery time from illness or injury, work schedule conflicts, childcare demands and a variety of other reasons.

Starting and Re-starting More and Better Cuddling

Most people who have a problem with cuddling or cuddling longer can get over their reluctance if they go about it as follows.  First talk it over with your cuddling partner, and if you can jointly agree, follow these procedures.  Start with whatever amount of cuddling seems tolerable, side-by-side on a couch or in a bed.  Then go just a bit longer.  Then in an hour do the same thing even a bit longer than before.  Repeat going a bit longer each time, an hour apart twice more.

Usually these first cuddling experiences are to be done with only a little, soft, gentle movement and nothing sexual.  Repeat the next day at least three times with a little more soft gentle movement of hands and arms and body movement.  And again, do nothing sexual, just caressing in slow comforting ways.  If anything seems displeasurable, ask for a change into whatever would be a little more pleasurable, or at least tolerable instead of sending a stop message.

Part of the cuddling usually is best done by being still and mentally focusing on what you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, plus noting that nothing harmful or painful is occurring.  You also silently might reassure yourself that you are ok and you are on your way to very positive feelings and experiences.  If you can do this exercise 3 to 5 times a day for a week, you likely are going to go through a period where you find your feelings about cuddling to be either mixed or just neutral, but not really negative.  Then usually you go through a period where you are starting to increasingly enjoy cuddling.  After each practice cuddle it is good for you and your partner to go do something simple and pleasurable for just a little while.

Only after both people are fairly comfortable and enjoying cuddling as a way to lovingly be with each other does it become desirable for small amounts of sexiness to be added.  This can be increased in the same way as above, every third or fourth time a cuddling exercises is conducted.  Most of the couples we worked with reported having really wonderful and enriching cuddling experiences happening after about two weeks of following these procedures.

It is important to remember that  to cuddle is for most people primarily an act of joint and mutual love interchange, and it is important that it be done with a strong love-focus most of the time.  It can be especially comforting in times of emotional pain.  Furthermore, it can be playful, serene, even spiritual, provide a sense of safety and be very important in love-bonding.  It also can be sexual so long as the love elements predominate over time.  It also is important that there be no negative talk of any kind during a cuddling experience because that can defeat all of it’s many positive effects.

If there are continued problems getting comfortable cuddling, consulting a good love-oriented and touch knowledgeable couples’ therapist is recommended.  Some massage therapists also are good with helping couples gain the benefits of loving touch including cuddling, as are some sex therapists.

Cuddling with Others

It is especially is important as a love practice to cuddle infants, children and teens except when they are in their natural periods of individuation and tend to pull away.  With other family members and dear close friends, along with anyone who needs support and reassurance it is usually a very good thing.

Getting Yourself Cuddled More and Better

The simplest way often is the best and most efficient way to get yourself more and better cuddling.  That way is to clearly but lovingly ask for it.  This can be a part of lovingly and jointly talking over how you both want to be touched which is a good thing for every couple to do.  Do not forget that asking for what you want, clearly and lovingly, is a powerful part of healthy self-love.  To learn more at this site go to the Subject Index and check out the mini-love-lessons titled “Love Hugs for Health and Happiness”, “Touching Back – A Surprisingly Important Love Skill” and “50 Varieties of Love Touch”.

As Always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Do You Think You are Good at Giving and Getting Various Types of Loving Touch?

Can Love the Second Time Around Be Better Than the First?

FREE!!! Over 200 Mini-Love-Lessons, Touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries Worldwide

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is all about people making a second marriage (or love-mated relationship) and later attempts at couple’s love to succeed better than most people do.  It introduces the concept of “team love” as crucial to second and later effort success, and presents what are NOT the right answers times seven.

Second Failures and Second Successes

Second marriages, second marriages to the same person, try again relationships, re-contacts after breakups, joining up after years apart, living together again with an ex – they all start with the danger of the past repeating itself.  They also face a statistical worse chance of staying together than does a first time, committed relationship.  Even so, all these second attempts are on the rise throughout the developed world.

The good news is there is a growing group of couples (maybe up to about 30+ percent ?) who are making second goes at love, marriage, etc work and, not only that, but making them work far better than their first attempts.  Another good news factor is we are beginning to have some ideas, some understandings, some research and some new and apparently more helpful concepts about what makes second goes at couple’s love work and what makes them fail.

It is still true that most second, third, fourth, etc. marriages and other couple’s unions fail at greater rates than do first time marriages, etc. but it does not have to be that way.  This is demonstrated by a number of second marriage couples exhibiting their second-time-around as far more successful, more healthy, more happy and more lasting than their first.

I literally have worked with hundreds of second time couples.  On follow-up survey research, most of them report getting better and better at being a loving couple.  I heard from one of them just yesterday. They told about how they were before and after they came to do love-centered, team oriented, couple’s counseling. Collectively they had previously made five marriage type attempts, all ending in agonizing failure.  That was years ago before they got together and started learning what it really takes to make a second attempt, couple’s love have lasting success (defined as 10 or more years).  Furthermore, I personally know this because I am in such a second relationship which Kathleen which we have made work better and better for over 40 years.

What Is NOT the Answer Times 7!

Before we look at what does work, let’s look at some of what we can learn from second attempt failures.

1.    Relying on doing a love relationship the same way you did it before likely will not work any better the second time than it did the first.  You must do different to get different results.  Those who succeed at a second go at couple’s love usually learn to do the second relationship very differently than they did their first.  There are some exceptions but not many.

2.    Relying on finding the perfect mate who treats you just right, just about guarantees failure.  One reason is because that puts almost all the pressure and weight of succeeding on your love-mate and little or none on yourself, or on your joint team love system which often turns out to be a crucial factor.

3.    Relying on the magic of love to make every thing work right this second time is like a farmer relying on the magic of nature alone to produce a healthy, abundant harvest.  No, it is going to take a lot of new love knowledge and team work along with the magical nature of love.

For example think of acrobats and their incredible teamwork to keep each other tumbling and sailing through the air safely.  Then think of any well coordinated team artfully running plays and patterns in cooperation and harmony, so as to make scores and win the game.  Now think of couple’s love like a team sport; you don’t know yet how to play very well.  So, it is going to take a lot of joint learning and joint practicing to get good at it together.  Love’s magical nature may get you started but from there on its sheer conjoint team effort and increasing love skill that wins the day.

4.    Do NOT rely on falling in love, feeling like you are in love, or being sure you are in love now that you think you have found the single, right person for you because several forms of false love can give you pretty much the very same initial feelings.

5.    Do NOT rely on manipulation games, relating by deceptions, relational trickery, other people’s rules for romance, hiding your less pleasant truths, phoniness or any other lack of realness because while those things might get you married falsehood, likely will not keep you mated that way or get you into healthy, real love.

6.    Do NOT rely on blaming of your ex, or of yourself or anything else to help you know how to go on to second love success.  And while you are thinking about past failures do not spend too much time on what went wrong because usually that will not lead you to what you must do right or what you must skillfully learn to do well.  Remember, knowing 3 is not the answer to 2+2 does not tell you the answer is 4.  Plus, it leaves you open to the mistakes of answering 5, 6, 7, etc.  However, it usually is useful to study what and how you could have done better.

7.    Do NOT rush into your next, heavy duty relationship.  Start light and don’t specialize in any one person too soon.  Sample broadly, let the best emerge and grow into it slowly.  Take a year and preferably two, once you think something is working really well.  As Paul told us, “ love is patient”.  It usually is false love that is in a hurry.

A New Understanding of Second Love Success

Second attempts at spousal love may go better, even much better than first marriages, non-marriages, unions, etc. because the couple learns to work at doing love itself better as a team.  Team love, much like any teamwork, requires a coordinated interaction of sending love and receiving love more skillfully and more completely than might have occurred in first marriages and other love attempts.  It appears that is because successful second marriage couples jointly tend to go looking for the how-to’s of doing love better than they did before.  They may not consciously know they are doing this, then again sometimes they do.  Also being aware that they can fail appears to help them be much more careful right from the start of a new relationship.

Those who succeed seem to interact in cooperative coordination using the behaviors of love much more often and much more readily than in previous relationships.  In doing so, they continually develop and hone their team love skills.  Such couples become increasingly better at working together in unison and jointly uniting to produce positive effects.  They learn to act in much more loving concert with each other pulling together, acting side-by-side, joining their forces together and siding with each other when facing opposition or difficulty.

These couples make efforts jointly and concurrently, growing their common love connection and with it a strengthening team spirit.  Their approach is exemplified by the statement “when I win you win, and when either of us loses so does the other and so does our relationship”.  They assist each other to be individuals but that too they do with team harmony.  Sometimes they do fall into disharmony and dissonance.  When that happens it is not long before they are trying to come back together in the teamwork of healing and conjointly reconnecting.  With their success, comes a joint shared joy and motivation to succeed again together even better.

More technically, successful second time couples are thought to build a much better systemic, love-active series of positive and jointly developed interaction patterns.  When one makes a little bid for a love connection with a glance, a sound, a gesture or anything, the other one picks up on it and smoothly and quickly acts in kind.  When one directly asks for any particular show of love, the other one also smoothly and quickly is responsive in kind.  The teamwork truly is a duet of love-responsive-interaction.

Much like superb, well practiced dancers, their actions, even when very different from one another, integrate with each other to produce a synergetic, singular whole.  Their support is mutual as is their respect for one another and their affirmation is solid and frequently freely evident as is a tolerance when things do not go well.  They do sometimes clash, sometimes quite vehemently, but never nearly as much as they harmonize and demonstrate how much they value one another and the importance of their coupleness.

It is important to know that this systemic team love concept for many people is hard to understand and also not easily researched.  It is hard enough for a lot of people to comprehend the ways of an individual let alone the interaction patterns of a couple acting in loving concert with one another.
To help you with that, here is a double example.  Al stays at the office later and later because he knows that when he gets home he will be met with his angry, disappointed, complaining wife, Barb.  So, Al stays later and later to avoid that.  He secretly hopes that Barb will get the idea that being nice would get him home sooner.  Barb waiting at home gets angrier, increasingly disappointed and prone to intense complaining the longer and longer it takes for Al to get home.  She secretly hopes her demonstrable unhappiness will get her husband to start coming home sooner.

Both Al and Barb’s actions are having the opposite of the desired effect.  Neither of them sees that what they are doing, trying to make it better, makes it worse; nor do they see that it is a cyclical pattern they both jointly are creating.  Next-door, Carl works to get home as quickly as he can because his wife, Debbie, is so pleasant to come home to.  Debbie is pleasant because Carl always arrives home greeting her with happy love.  They too are creating a joint interaction, cyclical pattern but one that has a positive, team love effect instead of an anti-love, negative one. Might it be that Al and Barb are in a first marriage and Carl and Debbie in a second, having learned better from their first?

In or Going toward a Second, Big, Committed Effort at Love?

If you are already in or going toward a second, big, committed effort at couple’s love, let me suggest you get a really strong TEAM focus.  As a team, together study, discuss and practice the behaviors of love  “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”, the understandings of love’s workings, the things that are known to help couple’s teamwork and those that do not help.  Learn how to avoid the traps of false love and the skills it takes to grow healthy, real love also can be part of your team focus.  Of course, we recommend this website and its 200+ mini-love-lessons, the books mentioned here, along with everything else you can find that looks like it might be worthy of your joint attention.  Classes, workshops, retreats, and being around loving people, especially loving couples, often can do wonders.  There is lots more but that will have to do for now.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love success question: When, where and with whom have you done your best teamwork, and can you see how to apply what you did there to growing a couple’s team love?