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Showing posts with label definitions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label definitions. Show all posts

What Your Brain Does with Love - Put Simply

Mini-Love-Lesson #208

Synopsis: Where your heart resides in your brain and what that has to do with the many emotions triggered by love; how feeding your brain love makes you healthy are all presented and surveyed in this mini-love-lesson; more.

The Heart in Your Brain

First, in cherished tones, you hear the words “I love you”, or perhaps you feel a tender loving touch, or maybe you see a precious sweet smile on the face of a beloved one, or it could be any of the 383 other loving behaviors (so far discovered, Swenson) which can activate your sensory systems to help you experience love.  Next, as your nerves are stimulated by a love input they send electrical messages to centers and circuits of your deeper, ancient, non-conscious brain designed for receiving and processing love.

That deeper part of your brain primarily is where your psychological heart resides.  It is where you process love, being loved and loving.  It also is the part of that sends out electrical and chemical messages to other parts of your brain and to many parts of your body activating them to function more healthfully, and generally to beneficially guide you.  Then those messages stimulate your brain to make a variety of neurochemical compounds which in turn help to make you conscious of starting to feel the many, various, good, emotional and physical feelings of love.

All of that happens mostly quite naturally, automatically and also largely non-consciously at first.  But your subconscious knows and is responding.  When it comes to love, it seems that the conscious, aware and thinking mind, to a large extent, gets bypassed at first.  Some have postulated that perhaps nature does not really trust the conscious mind to handle anything as important as love, other than to be aware of feeling it after it is up and running.  Notice, people tend more often to say things like “I realized I love him (or her)”, or “suddenly I just knew I loved (so-and-so)” rather than saying things like “I can tell I love that person a little bit and maybe that love is growing”.  That occasionally does happen.  Perhaps also that is why you can not feel your love for someone all the time but it is there all the time where you can draw on it when it is called for.

You purposely can come to sense love when it exists in you and, thus, know you love someone, but this is just the awareness of love and not the love itself.  Because love neurologically is not an emotion but rather a natural, complicated, internal, deep brain process which you sometimes feel or sense.  It also is a process which can give you a great many different emotions, among which are feeling loving, feeling loved and feeling lovable.

Love and Its Accompanying Emotions

While love happens, you frequently do become consciously aware of the feelings of being loved, and/or loving, or just a sense of love itself.  You also may get a wide range of other, accompanying, positive feelings which the experience of love triggers or sets off in your brain.  When love is being experienced, there can be accompanying positive feelings of tenderness, intimacy, ecstasy, serenity, passion, emotional closeness and connection, compassion, ebullience, preciousness, empathetic care, oceanic awareness and a great many other fantastic feelings.

Identifying love as only an emotion is grossly inaccurate and can lead to mis-judging its emotional richness, nature, power, importance and functional dynamics.  In turn, that can lead to a great many missed opportunities, misunderstandings and relational mistakes concerning love.  Some of those can be quite tragic.  Remember, feeling love is natural but love relating is learned.

Blocked and Anti-Love Interference

The whole love process described above can be blocked, confounded and in essence sabotaged by other things that go on both in your brain and in your life.  For instance, a former love relationship that was too often or too severely painful can cause you to be extra reluctant and cautious about entering a new love involvement.  If you have been trained or subconsciously programmed to be more oriented to one, or more, of the false forms of love you may greatly misinterpret or overlook a current, real love opportunity.

Too much emphasis on sexuality, romance, marriage or strong personal insecurity also can get in the way of healthy, real love development.  Substance addictions, compulsive avarice and status desires, plus simply plain ignorance about love also provides lots of dangers.  These are but some of the many things that can block or interfere with processing love healthfully and doing love-relating successfully.

Love and Your Brain for the More Anatomically Fascinated

You could skip this section if you are not intrigued about knowing some of the brain/body details of love’s psychoneurophysiology and neurochemistry.

There is a lot we don’t know yet and what we do know is like everything else about the brain – complicated.  Nevertheless, here is a little bit of more technical brain knowledge concerning what your brain does with love.  These knowledge bits can be used to lookup much more complete information than is given here.

First of all, the preponderance of research evidence shows love not to be an emotion like it is so often misidentified.  Rather, love, at least in part, is seen as a natural, very healthy, systemic, brain process involving many emotions and a whole lot more than that.  Brain-wise the process of love is more similar to the biological process of turning food into energy or your body’s systems and for keeping you free from infections than it is to being just a simple emotional feeling.  Unlike an emotion, real love is not a temporary, or frequently fleeting feeling.  Rather, once real love is established it likely is going to be with you from then on, and some postulate even after death.  A relationship may end but if there was real love that will remain even though there might be many contravening variables about other aspects of the relationship.

Your psychological heart mostly is in your brain’s limbic system.   Love processing involves a good many of your limbic system’s component parts.  Thought to be included are your insula, anterior cingulate cortex, caudate nucleus and putamen, all of which show heightened activation when you come in contact with someone you feel love with or for.  Lower activation also occurs in the amygdala, posterior cingulate, and the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices in the right hemisphere of your brain.  Those changes in brain activity show love to be at least a twofold process.  One, increases good or positive feelings and the other decreases your negative or bad feelings.  Among those are a lowered sense of fear and a heightened sense of safety.  Changes in the activation rate of those brain parts also mean you become less outer environmentally aware and more internally and emotionally aware as the love process happens.  Worry decreases and as love-induced endorphins and dopamine levels increase so does your all-over sense of happiness and well-being.

Also thought to be probably involved with the love process in your brain are your hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, temporal lobe, orbitofrontal cortex, septal area, corpus callosum, frontal lobe, fornex, mammillary bodies and limbic cortex.  Each of those may have to do with different aspects and factors of the love process.

When referring to a couple, some may say “they have chemistry” that certainly is true.  Love makes a host of neurochemical things happen.  Chemical changes in your brain and body frequently include changes in androgen, testosterone, pheromones, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine, and that is just what researchers have discovered, it seems so far that I know about.  Each of those helps you process different aspects of loves dynamics.  For instance, oxytocin helps you with feeling love connected and bonded with another.  Please note, these are natural, good chemicals that are produced by our bodies when love occurs.  So, those who get lots of love in their lives don’t need similar kinds of pharmaceuticals or street drugs with potential toxic side effects.

From Your Brain to Your Body

The chemicals your brain makes when it is processing love go into your blood and flow through not only your brain but also through the rest of your body.  Everywhere they go they work to have a great variety of beneficial and healthful effects.  It seems that each of the three tiers and 12 major categories of loving behavior [see A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love] may trigger different, healthful benefits.  Some are quite invigorating, energizing and mobilizing for action.  Others are calming, soothing and make for antidepressant serenity.  Quite a few have various kinds of physical healing effects.  Others are more healing in a psychological sense.

Feeling loved from any source can sort of work like food giving you energy, sometimes a great deal of energy.  Feeling serenely loved especially is good for lowering stress and the body’s reactions to stress.  Feeling loving toward others brings on one set of physically healthful effects, while acting loving toward others adds another set of physically healthful, biophysical reactions.

Getting and giving different behaviors that convey love has a positive effect on your immune system’s functioning, can lower your bad cholesterol and can help your T cells fight cancer.  The health benefits go on and on, with research discovering more all the time.

Feeding Your Brain Love Makes You Healthy

Your psychological mind and your psychological heart are in your brain.  The brain is in your body and they are all linked together affecting each other.  Experiencing healthy, real love works like a vital health food and a rather miraculous medicine.  The more you interact with people you love, and are loved by the more your brain produces helpful responses that affect your entire body’s health.  This also seems true for those you like and those you are liked by.  More love equals more health.  That is what more and more research is showing.

The more you are absent from healthy, real love input, the more you are psycho-physically malnourished or even starved and the more likely you are to have a physical and/or psychological health malfunction.  Mixing a lot with people doing false love is like eating non-nourishing, junk food.  Even worse, is to be around and interact with negative, anti-love acting people.  That is akin to eating toxic and poisonous food.  Also bad for your health is a lack of healthy self-love, and self-hate and self negation are even worse.

If at your work, or somewhere else you spend time, involves a lot of contact with non-loving, false love or anti-loving people, you had best counterbalance that with healthy self-love and with others who love well.  Remember, it is very important to “love others as you love yourself”.  It is likely your health depends on it!

One More Thing

How about sharing and talking over this mini-love-lesson with a friend or two and, thus, spread some love knowledge into our rather love ignorant world.
As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How much real healthy love, shown physically and psychologically, have you been feeding your brain lately?

Thinking About Love, How Good Can Yours Get?

Mini-Love-Lesson #214

Synopsis: Here you get introduced to the need for and the benefits of good love thinking; ideas for bringing together your head and your heart ways of thinking about love and getting free of blocks to good love thinking are also included; more.

Do You Know How to Do Good Thinking about Love?

If you give it a little thought, your thinking about love likely can get really good. That, in turn, could produce joyously superb results for your life. The trouble is, except for a few, most people are not very good at thinking about love usefully, productively or even close to successfully when there is a love problem.  How about you?  Can you think about love in ways that are beneficial, constructive, fruitful and if there are love problems, adeptly find love-based solutions?  By the way, did you know that if there is a love relationship problem, it is thinking about the love part rather than the problem part that more likely can lead to improvements?  At least that is what some suggest.

Let’s suppose you want to fix a broken heart, get over a lost love, recover from a wounded heart or cure a sick love relationship.  Or let’s suppose you want to find real love, grow a stronger love, deepen your love or generally just enrich your life with more and better love.  Do you think you have the knowledge about love and what you can do with it to go after and accomplish what you want?  Sadly, not too many people can reply to any of these questions with a strong affirmative.  However, with a little study and practice you can, if you don’t already.  So, let’s think about thinking about love.

Start with a Simple Premise!

If you do good thinking about love, your actions about love can get better and better which likely will result in more and more love success, and better and better love feelings more frequently experienced throughout your life.

Conversely, if your love thinking is poor, inadequate, misinformed, etc. your actions concerning love are more likely to be wasted, counterproductive, inadequate, unhealthy, etc., resulting in, at best, love relational mediocrity or, at worst, considerable disappointment, failure and unhappiness in love.

Unblocking and Freeing Your Thought Process First?

Think!  Ponder!  Puzzle?  Question.  Explore.  Examine!  Speculate?  Reflect!  Contemplate.  Inquire.  Suspect?  Envision!  Hypothesize.  Learn!  And do all of them concerning love!  But wait.  Is your mind really free and unblocked for doing these things when it comes to love?  Many minds are not.

Cultural conditioning has made a great many people in quite a number of societies around the world think that thinking about love is a no-no.  Especially in romantic love you are supposed to rely on luck, magic, fate, the stars, myths, legends, folklore and heaven but, heaven forbid, not on your own thinking mind.

It seems that only in Russia, where loveology (see “Is There Really a New Field Called Loveology”) has been made an official field of study, is it okay to really think and learn about love like you would think and learn about every other subject.  That is until your lack of thinking and learning helps you get into a love relationship that sinks or crashes and gets you badly hurt.  When that happens at least some people start to really think and learn about love and its actual workings.
Luckily in recent years, scientists have begun to go against the social prohibition of researching love and are finding out marvelous, incredible, useful and practical love knowledge.  With it, you really can do good thinking about love.

Of course, family influences growing up, certain societal and religious training, love experience trauma and other intervening variables also can cause blockage and otherwise mess up your ability to think successfully concerning love in love relationships.  All of those influences might require the help of a good, love-oriented counselor or therapist before really good thinking about love could be accomplished.

Good Love Thinking, What Is It?

I suggest good thinking about love is cognition about love accomplished via a wide variety of potentially good, love-oriented, thinking qualities.

Below you will find a list of 40 such qualities.  Later you can use the list to analyze, rate and improve your own thinking about love.  However, first let’s just do some thinking about the qualities on the list.  Each of these qualities has been used to describe, in a positive way, the nature and fashion some others tend to think in when they think about love.  Would some of these words describe your thinking about love?

1. Helpful  2. Positive  3. Constructive  4. Kind  5. Knowledgeable
6. Appreciative  7. Innovative  8. Empathetic  9. Discerning
10. Artistic  11. Fruitful  12. Accepting  13. Progressive
14. Affirmative  15. Productive  16. Beneficent  17. Wise
18. Considerate  19. Inspired  20. Forgiving  21. Inquisitive
22. Seductive  23. Resourceful  24. Balanced  25. Non-judgmental
26. Sexual 27. Reasoned 28. Generous 29. Democratic
30. Romantic  31. Evidence-based  32. Reverent  33. Creative
34. Erotic  35. I win,, you win oriented  36. Awe filled
37. Informed  38. Loving  39. Insightful  40. Compersive* (opposite of jealous).
If you wish feel free to add words or terms of your own.

Now for An Intriguing Little Survey

First, think of someone you love and consistently want ongoing love from.  It could be a lover, a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend or anyone else you choose.  With that person clearly in mind, pick out two to five qualities from the above list which you suspect that person wants to be descriptive of your way of thinking about love.  You may want to write those qualities down.  Next, ask yourself what two to five qualities you hope that loved person’s thinking about love contains.  Now, ponder how this informs you about your love with that person.  You could go check that out with them and do some joint thinking about your love together.

Next, using the above list, let me suggest you pick out what may be two to five qualities concerning your thinking about love which you suspect may be your strongest and best qualities involved in thinking about love.  Ask yourself if you really are strongly or only moderately empowered in those qualities.  In either case, are there things you want to do to increase your better qualities even more?
Now, search through the list to see which two to five other qualities of your thinking about love would best be improved?  Then think and perhaps write down what you could do to make those improvements.

Last, review the list for the two to five qualities on the list which most puzzle you or just grab your attention.  Those may be the most important ones for you to attend to.
All this can be used to talk over with others, especially those you are in a love relationship with.

Using Your Cognitive and Emotional Intelligence to Think Good

The odd-numbered items on the above list are understood to have more of a connection to cognitive mental (cortex) processing.  The even-numbered items have more to do with thinking that is emotionally motivated, connected and processed (limbic).

It is important that your thinking not only be cognitively good but also be in harmony with your emotions related thinking about love.  Otherwise you may be, like the proverbial “house divided against itself” and become rather conflicted and self-defeating.  That, by the way, is another place that much cultural conditioning about love tends to lead with its heart versus head dichotomies.  Head with heart in synthesis works much better.

With that in mind, you might want to count and analyze whether the even numbered qualities or the odd numbered qualities concern you the most.  Are you better at the even or the odd numbered items and what do you think that might say about you?

Your Inner Sense of Love Needs Your Help

You may just know you love your children, parents, other family, pets, dear friend, and perhaps your deity, your country and even yourself.  You probably are quite right about all that.  However, when it comes to romantic love you can be very wrong – very seriously, dangerously and tragically wrong!  Why is that?

One science-based answer to that question goes like this.  Mother Nature, in order to assist our species survival, evolved in us lust and various forms of false love so that we more quickly would mate and have offspring while waiting for lifelong commitment love which might never happen or take too long.  Remember, that a long long time ago there were not many humans on earth and they did not live very long so, having kids before something killed us off was vital to our species survival and expansion.  Note, that several forms of false love last for about two years and then turn off.  That is just about enough time for two parents to get a child started and then go mix the gene pool with new others (see our Real Love False Love book).

For all forms of love, it is best if your head and heart work together but especially is that important in romantic love.  You may sense you have a strong romantic love for someone, a love that wants to be sexual with that person and even to have a child with that person.  These feelings can be quite real but the interpretation and conclusion you draw quite mistaken.  That is when your heart really needs the help of your head.  To help your heart, your head needs to be love-knowledgeable, and be able to do good love-focused thinking.

Good thinking about how to love a child, a parent, a friend, yourself or anyone or anything else tends to result in good, healthy, powerful loving.  Spiritual love, altruistic love, humanitarian love and every other form of love all can use the help of your good thinking mind.  So, learn to do good thinking about love and maybe put a little more successful love into our world.

Congratulations!  You already are working at good love thinking by reading this mini-love-lesson.  Keep working at it and you will get better because you can and it is important!  To help you with that, you might want to give thought to the mini-love-lessons titled “Thinking Love to Improve Love”, “What Your Brain Does with Love – Put Simply” and also review “The Definition of Love Series” at this site.

One More Little Thing

How about introducing this site and this mini-love-lesson’s ideas to someone you love and then to somebody new?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Would it be a good idea for you to make your own journal, recording your own personal “Thinking about Love”?

* See the love lesson “Compersion: A Newly Identified Emotion of Love”.

Can Love Overcome Incompatibility?

Synopsis: We start with worst-case incompatibility getting unstuck; then go on to compatibility choices; the better other choice; some how-to’s; deal breakers; and the great importance of experimenting.

A ‘Worst-case’

Tabitha, with tears running down her cheeks, wailed to her lover, Jamail, “We’ve got to face it!  We love each other but we are just two different.  We can never make it as a couple”.  Jamail looking very distressed pleaded, “We should try anyway.  Are we not taught that love conquers all”?

Tabitha responded, “You’re deep into your religion and I am an agnostic.  You are a capitalist and I am a socialist.  You want sweet and tender lovemaking and I want rough and tough passion.  You want to live in different countries and move around a lot and I want to put down roots and stay in one place.  You want to make a lot of money and retire early and just play.  I want a lifetime of doing good to others and giving back to my community.  You want rice with everything and I am allergic to it.  You want a passel of children and I’m not sure I even want one.  How in the world can you think we could ever be compatible enough to succeed?”

Jamail, with a strong, serious look replied  “I think we could each give up some things for each other, compromise on other things and just try hard not to fight about the rest.  I’m ready to sacrifice because I love you so much, and I know it’ll be hard but I bet we can do it if we try hard enough.  Do you love me enough to do that?”  Tabitha with a sad, soft demeanor replied, “I do love you more than enough to try and I think we could make it work for a while, but if we sacrifice, later we will grow resentful and depressed because we would be denying our true selves and I don’t think that can ever work”.

Jamail retorted, “Even if that’s true, we still try and if it doesn’t work we would know that we had done what we could.  Unless we try will never know for sure. I would hate to think that if we had only tried we might’ve made it”  Tabitha said, “I guess you’re right but I don’t want to spend my life trying what you suggest.  I have seen to many others do that and they were too incompatible to make it work.  I refuse to live like them.”  Jamail then beseeched, “Give it a year, six months, even three?  Tabitha with a hint of a smile responded, “Six months with the option to renew for six more – okay?”
Jamail quickly answered, “OK, and look at what we’ve just done.

With love and talk we have arrived at a compatible, next step from our mutual incompatible positions.  Maybe that’s a good omen.”  Tabitha laughed and said, “I don’t believe in omens but you’re right, and okay we can give it a try so long as we keep showing each other love during the hard times we are going to have.  I know if we don’t mix love into the times we get upset with each other, we will never make it.”  Jamail then said, “I know I have to do a lot of work to do in that area, and that is the first place we have to grow more compatibility in to make the rest of it work.  So, when I don’t come across loving enough, just remind me, and if it’s okay with you, I’ll do the same with you.”  Tabitha added, “Sometimes we both will need timeouts, so we have to not pester each other or get more upset with each other’s timeouts like we have before.”  “Yes, and see we’re doing it again; we’re working it out, replied Jamail.  Hugs and kisses followed.

Compatibility’s Choices

Most people seem to think that compatibility is something a couple just has or they just don’t have.  One finds it or can’t find it, or just hopes it will magically show up one day because they are so in love.  Our love mythology leads so many people to think couple compatibility is all a matter of luck or fate.  So, when they don’t find it they just break up or resign themselves to their miserable incompatibility destiny.

One problem with that view is that it takes a fair amount of time to figure out whether or not you are sufficiently compatible or not.  Lots of couples caught in a False Love Syndrome, slowly or after a few years of trying, sometimes suddenly raise into their awareness how incompatible they really are.  Several False Love Syndromes seem to be particularly good at blinding people from seeing their incompatibility.  Many such couples go into denial and repeatedly struggle on, until they finally do give up.  Some of those who give up, stay in the relationship trying to just live with and tolerate the incompatibility.  Several forms of False Love Syndrome lend themselves to overtly tolerating the incompatible difference while secretly or subconsciously looking for a new love that is real, and hoping to switch to a new, more compatible, better person.  That leads to affairs, divorce, and breakups.  It sometimes does lead to a much more compatible, real, love relationship that is far better, and other times not.

A lot of people do just find someone who is sufficiently compatible and that helps tremendously.  Nevertheless, such couples later do discover difficult differences and have to work at growing their compatibility.  Lots of couples, after the so-called honeymoon period, start discovering hidden differences and incompatibilities, some of which can severely sabotage or totally torpedo a couple’s relationship unless they start doing the work of growing their compatibility.  The research shows that no matter how compatible a couple starts out, they will experience compatibility struggles.

The Better Other Choice

Here is that really good news. More and more evidence points to what ‘successful couples actually do’ is not ‘find’ but instead ‘grow’ their compatibility.  Sure it helps to start out with at least a little compatibility, but even without much there is a way.  With enough healthy, real love, the right knowledge, plus dedicated and democratic, earnest teamwork, many, even severe incompatibility problems often are able to be overcome.  You see, Tabitha and Jamail are now 10 years together and most of those very happily together years.

See if you can wrap your head around the concept of lovingly and democratically growing compatible.  This actually is what most highly compatible couples have done.  Some of them started out with extreme incompatibility.  Of course, the more incompatible a couple is the more work it probably is going to take.  It is not magic, luck or fate.  It is work, or more exactly ‘teamwork’ that makes couples grow increasingly compatible.

Some How-To’s for Growing Compatibility

To start growing compatibility, you first might want to work on your ‘Toleration Love’. Tolerational love is one of the eight major groups of behavior by which social psychologists have shown that love gets given or delivered to another.  (You can read what you likely need to know about ‘Tolerational Love’ in Recovering Love.  There are several mini-love-lessons at this site which also will help.)  While you are growing compatibility, toleration love can get you through the disappointments, aggravations, irritations and frustrations of your incompatibilities.  One exception has to do with seriously unhealthy, destructive behavior.  There, it is important that your toleration not be enabling whatever is destructive.

A democratic approach and mindset is pretty much required.  If you have a “my way or the highway”, autocratic approach or mindset, growing compatibility does not stand much of a chance.  Two people in a relationship have to be willing to try each other’s ways, hear and consider each other’s thoughts no matter what they are, and have good emotional intercourse about everything felt (See the mini-love-lesson on Emotional Intercourse).

Constantly mixing in expressions of love in words and acts as you deal with whatever seems incompatible, and doing a good job of ‘Receptional Love’ at the same time makes the work of growing compatibility easier and more likely to succeed.  Be sure you do that in the way the one you love likes to be love (You might want to consult “The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman for that).

Work to avoid ‘love destroyers’ and sabotage systems.  Especially important to avoid is diminishing your demonstrations of love in frequency or strength when dealing with incompatibility issues.  Also super important is to avoid demeaning your loved one because of their differences from you.  Guilt trips, putdowns, blame, indignation, making fun of, making derogatory comments, moralizing at your beloved, etc. are in no way helpful for growing compatibility.  Sometimes ‘making light of’ and having some fun with issues can be helpful if sufficiently, mutually enjoyed.  Slowing or stopping the demonstration of love is likely to be very detrimental.

Deal Breakers

Zea broke it off with Max a few days after their fifth get-together when he lit up a cigarette and explained he really liked smoking and had for years.  She knew she could not live with a smoker, having gone through the excruciating smoking-related cancer deaths of both her parents.  Her healthy, self-love would not permit it or risk it.  It had been far too painful.  Understand that, Zea was not being judgmental or condemning Max for smoking.  Zea was just realizing and ‘owning’ what was true about herself and acting on that knowledge.  She did explain it to Max and he tried to quit smoking, but gave up the effort after a little while, so Max and Zea were no longer ‘an item’.
This is pretty much the best way ‘deal breakers’ work.

No one needs to be unloving about it.  The truth is, some incompatibilities for some people are too big or too strong.  I like to suggest that couples who think this may be true for them in some area or another, first experiment with seeing if they can find a compromise, or a synthesis, or any other way to deal with whatever the incompatibility is all about.  Couples’ counseling can be a big help here.

The Importance of Experimenting

To earnestly ‘try on for size’ what your beloved wants you to do, to truly see if you can learn to enjoy what your beloved enjoys, to work to find ways to appreciate or at least tolerate the people your beloved values, to learn to look through your beloved’s eyes even though your beloved’s understandings are so opposite and different than your own, to clearly and frequently ask for what you want and to genuinely try to weave it together with what your beloved wants; all that and much more is involved in experimenting toward growing compatibility.  Of course, it must all be done with lots of well expressed love.

It is amazing how often experimenting leads people to genuinely like and be enriched by that which they did not like or want as it first was presented by their beloved.  It’s also amazing how often a synthesis with a beloved’s ways develops a new and third better way for both.  Experimenting and working to find the value in the differences a couple brings to each other is a grand way of growing compatibility.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What do you think of this statement, “You get to have it all your way, or you get to have love”?

How Love Works - 7 Basics

Synopsis: Seven major ways of understanding how love actually works and how to ‘work’ love for producing its wonders and marvels are each briefly described.

People sometimes ask me, “Dr. Cookerly, how does love really work?”.  Here is an answer that comes from recent scientific findings, discussions with learned colleagues and my own work with thousands of couples, families, individuals and lovers in various other lifestyles, plus from the work of some of the many therapists I have trained and supervised.

Those who have succeeded in various forms of love relationships can be said to have revealed at least seven basic ways showing how healthy, real love actually works.  These 7 ways can be described as follows:

1.  Healthy, Real Love Must Be Given Well and Received Well for it to fully work its wonders and marvels!
In counseling I often hear things like, “I guess my parents loved me but they never really showed it.”  (See the entry “Love in the Fridge”) Or sometimes it is said this way, “I suppose he loves me but he sure doesn’t show it very well”, Or “We are supposed to love each other but you’d never know it from the way we treat each other”.  In my practice and the practices of those I have supervised and consulted with research clearly has revealed two major reasons love relationships of all types fail.

These reasons hold especially true for couples who don’t make it.  The number one reason is ‘deficient and insufficient love communication’.  That means the people in the love relationship do not give love to or receive love from each other enough.  Love sent by verbalizations, touch, looks, tones of voice, affirmations and all the other ways love can be shown just doesn’t happen enough (For the eight major groups of behavior by which love can be conveyed see the entry “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love” ).

The number two reason is they send each other far too many anti-love messages like demeaning remarks, putdowns, criticism, hate looks, angrily intoned words, complaints, etc., compared to the number of pro-love messages they send each other such as experience gifts, hugs, praises, compliments, caresses, acts of tolerant acceptance, intimate self-disclosure, etc..  Unless actions demonstrating love and words of love are freely, frequently given and well received a love relationship is likely to weaken.  It then becomes susceptible to the stressors that may kill it, or it may just wither away and die.  Love insufficiently given and received will, at best, produce a love relationship that merely exists and does not reach anything like its full potential.

Note that Love has to not only be given well but also received well for it to best work its many miracles.  I remember Brenda who was great at giving love in all eight of the major ways love can be given directly, but she was lousy at receiving it.  She could lovingly caress her children and lover, give hugs to her friends and family, say words of love to all, give gifts, do actions of affirmation, self-disclosure, tolerance and every other form of demonstrating love.  However, if anyone tried to do those things with her she would cut it short, withdraw, discount, dodge, emotionally distance herself, deflect compliments and praises, and then later, not surprisingly, be depressed and quite love malnourished.

In childhood she had been subject to frequent, severe, phony ‘smother love’, followed by very controlling, painful abuse.  Thus, for her receiving love meant very bad things were about to happen.  It took a fair amount of therapy for her to be able to receive demonstrations of love from the many people who cared about her but she finally managed it.  Brenda exemplified someone suffered from an advanced case of poor receptional love ability.  However, there are many who block or avoid at least some of the love that is readily coming their way.  To be able to receive an expression of love without countering it with self deprecating, or fearful, suspicious or angry thoughts, or without countering it with indifference to what is happening is very hard for quite a few people. That’s almost always because love was coupled with too much pain earlier in their life.

‘Good reception’ means you focus on the love being shown to you, you purposefully appreciate and enjoy it because you’re focused on it and, if necessary, you remind yourself that it is probably real love, it’s not control, manipulation, trickery or some other negative thing that is coming your way.  Then you show that you really got it and enjoyed it so that the giver can hear and see that is really true – you really got it and it did you some good.  By doing that you give the giver the gift of good reception (See the Receptional Love Section in the entry “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”).
2.  Love Works like an Extraordinarily Marvelous, Nutritious Food
When we do a good job of receiving well-demonstrated, healthy, real love we get energized in a way that is very similar to what happens when we eat healthy, nutritious food.  When we are deprived of well-demonstrated love we show responses quite similar to malnutrition or starvation.  The research suggests this is in fact apparently true for all mammals, birds and some other species so far studied.  Receiving love probably releases energy already stored in us, but it may be an energy that nothing but receiving love will release.

The love nurturing and nutritious factor works because our brain is built for love.  Receiving acts that show us love triggers our brains into making healthful neurochemicals which then flow through our body doing all sorts of biologically beneficial things.  And this causes us to feel really good in a wide variety of ways.  Elation, serenity, a sense of well-being, a sense of safety, giddy, feeling powerful, joy, relief and strong connectedness are all among the many positive emotions that experiencing healthy, real love may bring us.

3.  Healthy, Real Love Well-Demonstrated and Well-Received Can Act like an Amazing, Widely Effective Medicine
Love in mysterious ways, not at all fully understood, facilitates healing biologically, psychologically and relationally.  At least that is what a growing body of medical, recovery and rehabilitation research evidence points to.  Given any two people with the same wound, physical or mental illness, addiction, disability or dysfunction it is the person best-loved who is most likely to survive, repair, recover and generally do well at healing.  The unloved, the lesser loved, and those who are poor at receiving love, along with those who are not good at healthy self-love are the ones who are less likely to heal and recover rapidly, thoroughly or sometimes at all, all else being equal.

Intriguingly there is evidence to suggest the terrific healing effects of love sometimes seem to occur even with people who are comatose.  Some research supports the concept that love is just as healing for sick or injured other mammals as it is for humans.  Conversely there also is evidence that points to a lack of healing or slowed healing which occurs in those people and experimental animals who do not have love showed to them.  Furthermore, the well loved seem to have better abilities for fighting off infections, a slower aging process, a tendency to recover more thoroughly and quicker physically and psychologically than do the lesser loved and the unloved.

4.  Amazingly Giving Love Also Makes You Healthier
Imagine the surprise of the researchers when they discovered that giving love to others lowered bad cholesterol, improved blood pressure and increased the anti-infection functions of the ‘givers’ of love.  It originally was thought that the ‘giver’ might be drained, which in extreme cases did occur, but mostly giving love made the giver healthier as well as the receiver.  Sometimes the giver of love is even more helped than the receiver.  Because giving love works to enhance the factors that promote a healthier, longer life for both the giver and the receiver I suggest you give lots of love to lots of people.

5.  Healthy, Real Love Works to Motivate the Most Important of All Thriving and Surviving Actions
Because of love we protect our loved ones.  Because of love we strive long and hard for the well-being of the loved.  Because of love we work to create, improve and continue relational connections.  Because of love we endeavor to live in harmony, cooperation, and in collaboration in order to constructively live life with our loved ones.  Love even may cause us to lay down our own life for those we love.  (See the entry “Is Love the Most Important Thing in the Universe?”)  Love inspires creative efforts like nothing else, makes for perseverance against all forms of difficulty, causes people to work long and hard for social improvement, and fuels our most courageous actions along with inspiring our most awesome achievements.

6.  For Love to Work Well It Must Be Worked
While love is natural the sending and receiving, the growing, the maintaining and the advancing of love requires work.  Healthy, real, well done love takes the work of learning how to do love ever better.  It also requires purposeful application of that love learning.  Much like a farm growing natural food to get a good harvest, a lot of labor is required.  To achieve the full success potential of well done love we have to ‘work’ the major ways to show and receive love, ‘work’ the how to’s of healthy self-love, ‘work’ the ways of constructively and creatively thinking about love, ‘work’ the uses of love’s many emotions and everything else having to do with love.  Sometimes love just spontaneously and naturally flows.

However, for there to be consistency of love, being able to work at it is required.  Being able to work love also is terrifically important in times of stress and difficulty when love is most needed but least likely to flow easily.  When you know how to work at love you can do it purposefully and that does not detract from doing it spontaneously.  Do know, this kind of ‘work’ has tremendous benefits and the more you work it the more it becomes an integrated part of your life.

7.  For Love Relationships to Thrive and Make Life Fulfilled Love Must Be Cycled
To make a love relationship continue, grow and be fully actualized the people in the love relationship must cycle the love.  This is true for couples, families, comrades, or any other type of love relationship.  Cycling love means that two or more people in the relationship are mutually giving and receiving actions demonstrating love in ongoing teamwork with each other.  They receive love and digest and benefit from it, and then freely send back love to those who are sending it to them.  They keep doing this cycling of love together usually in ever improving teamwork.  They give the gift of showing good receivership of love and they jointly dance the dance of love pretty much continuously.  Love can be freely given to others who do not reciprocate with love actions.

Love given this way is a form of charity, but that does not create an ongoing, love teamwork relationship.  Likewise, a person may receive love and not give love back to the sender.  The recipient is enriched but that does not make for a healthy teamwork of equals, nor does it create a lasting, fulfilling love mutuality.  Love sometimes can be put on hold for surprisingly long periods of time and then picked up and restarted later, but during the ‘on hold’ time the love relationship is not growing because it is not being actively cycled.

Love can be stored up and drawn upon later but it is best when love is constantly cycled and, therefore, freshly generated and restored.  One of the beauties of love is the more you cycle it the more you create it and have it to give it away.  The better people learn and practice love cycling teamwork the more fulfilling their love relationship becomes.  This also tends to promote and nurture healthy self-love which also produces people who have more love to freely give to others.

Hopefully these seven points will help you better consider how love works and how you may work to create more healthy, real love in your life and in the lives of those you care about.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Will you perhaps be talking over these ideas about how love works with a significant other, perhaps a mate, or lover, friend, or child you want to teach to think about love, and in so doing advance your own love thinking and, thereby, better your own love actions.

Previous Comments:
  1. Debora
    November 18th, 2014 at 21:08 |

    I read your website with Don and loVed it. We have come to an amazing congruence.
    – define and use the word tolerate as a stepping stone to to the word and meaning of acceptance.
    – have your webmaster put on each of your articles the option to email or Facebook.
    Grow in love is a wonderful phrase. Debora

How Smart Is Your Love? - A Test

Synopsis: Here you will find: why your love needs to be done smart; important background for taking the test; test instructions; the test; scoring instructions; interpretations; love smart homework using the test; and some concluding concepts.

Why Your Love Needs to Be Done ‘Smart’

Arguably love relationships are the most important thing you do in your life.  Your love relationship with your mate, family, children, friends, self, your deity, your purpose in life and life itself, all are very important and, therefore, best done ‘smart’ as opposed to dumb, ignorant, uninformed, without knowledge or stupid.

Think about doing your love relationships with the teamwork of your head and your heart working together in harmony.  We have some pretty good evidence that suggests people who do love this way have greater love success than those who don’t.  We also have evidence that suggests a great many people do not go about love smartly.  As one of my clients once said, “Putting the word smart and the word love together in the same sentence just does not happen in my head”.

Maybe you’ve been programmed dysfunctionally that way also.  Well, if that’s so and you really want good results in your love relationships I suggest you explore putting love and smart together in the way you do love.  Taking the following little exam will likely help you do just that.

Important Background for Taking the Test

You will be presented with a dozen questions designed to help you assess your ‘smart love’ functioning in order to do more ‘smart love’ and get more love successful.  There is research showing that ‘the love successful’ act differently than those who are less love successful. There are clinical findings showing that you can learn the actions of the more love successful and in the process become much more healthfully loving and loved.

There also is data  showing lots of people think love is a matter of luck and, consequently, they don’t work at learning what works and what doesn’t work in love relationships, until maybe it’s too late for a current love relationship to survive.

Also there are lots of people who repeat their failures time and time again, and also those who give up trying because it’s all just too painful.  If you experience a love failure the choices seem to be either to conclude you just are not lucky in love, or it’s always the other person’s fault, or you might conclude you are doing something wrong and you can learn how to do something much more likely to work.  That last conclusion is ‘a smart love choice’.

If you depend on learning instead of luck you’re much more likely to have greater love success in all types of love relationships – romantic, parent/child, family, friendship, spiritual, sexual, humanitarian and self-love.  The subject matter in each of the following test questions can help you start thinking more ‘love smart’.

Instructions For Taking the Test

Read each of the following questions carefully and read the four possible answers numbered one through four for each question.  Decide which answer comes closest to your best estimate of the correct answer for you.  Record the number of the question and then record next to it the number of the answer you have chosen.  Example: If on question three you choose answer number two you would record 3 – 2., for that question.  Try not to leave any questions unanswered.  After you have finished the test we will tell you what to do next for scoring and interpretation. Here are the questions:

1.    When a loved one is talking can you repeat back to them what they just said fairly exactly, showing you’re really good at loving listening?
1 rarely    2 occasionally    3 often    4 usually

2.    When a loved one is within arms reach do you reach out and give them a love touch?
1 rarely    2 occasionally    3 often    4 usually

3.    When you see a written article, TV show, news item, etc. that purports to have something to tell you about love (not sex) do you dive into it, study it, etc.?
1 rarely    2 occasionally    3 often    4 usually

4.    If you had a chance to go to a fairly inexpensive, three hour seminar or workshop on the psychology of healthy, real love would you go?
1  no        2 probably not    3 probably yes    4 definitely

5.    If a friend or relative you respect recommended a book about how to do love well would you read it?
1  no        2 probably not    3 probably yes    4 definitely

6.    If you heard that some people were studying their love history, including past love successes and love failures, and were learning a lot from doing that, would you want to do the same thing?
1  no        2 probably not    3 probably yes    4 definitely

7.    Do you ask your loved ones how they want you to show them your love?
1 never    2 hardly ever        3 occasionally    4 frequently

8.    Do you work at clearly understanding how you want love to be shown to you?
1 almost never    2 seldom    3 occasionally    4 frequently

9.    If you have a desire concerning how a loved one treats you, do you work at discovering how to clearly and lovingly to communicate and request your desire?
1 almost never    2 seldom    3 occasionally    4 frequently

10.    Do you study your loved ones working to know what pleases, assess and benefits them?
1 rarely    2 occasionally    3 fairly often        4 frequently

11.    When there’s a problem in a love relationship do you work at lovingly talking it over with whoever is involved, striving to find new and better ways to love your way through the problem?
1 rarely    2 occasionally    3 fairly often        4 frequently

12.    When a loved one is upset do you work to learn and find ways of showing emotional support, care and concern for the loved one’s upset feelings?
1 usually not    2 once in a while    3 most of the time    4 almost always

Score 1 point for every time you recorded a number one answer, score 2 points for every time you recorded a number two answer, and 3 points for every number three answer, and 4 points for every number four answer.  Then add up those points.  That is your score on this test.

    Scores 0 – 11 suggest you have too many “don’t know”, “not sure”, etc. answers and, therefore, you probably need to intensely study how to do successful love relationships.

Scores 12 – 24 suggest you probably are not going about love in a very smart way, and therefore, you are likely not to learn how to improve your love successes until you study a lot more how to succeed at love.

Scores 25 – 36 suggest you probably are learning a little about being love smart and love successful, but probably not nearly enough if you really want to improve your love relationships.

Scores 37 – 45 suggest you’re going about love in a fairly smart and fairly likely to succeed way, and if you keep this up and study more about love success you will succeed even more.

Scores 46 – 48 suggest you possibly are overconfident, or perhaps insufficiently insightful as to what you’re really doing, or maybe you are not giving close enough attention to your answers, and then again you could be cheating.  The other possibility is you actually are quite excellent at love.

Love Smart Homework, Using the Test

Go over your lowest scores and think about what you would have to do to improve them.  Each question’s content can be used as a suggestion for improvement, so contemplate the questions that way.  You might want to ‘journal’ what you think.  Now, go over your highest scores thinking about the content of those questions.  Use them to suggest to yourself ways to go further in learning how to do smart love.  Following that, look over your midrange scores and consider what it would take to improve those scores if you were to take the test again next year.

Do understand that this little test is just a way to help you more closely consider how to use your brain with your heart and arrive at greater love success for you and your loved ones.

Concluding Concepts

Smart love is knowledgeable love!  Smart love is done with learning and knowledge acquirement which is put into practice and continuously improved upon.  Socrates and Plato worked to acquire love knowledge and gave us the famous “Symposium on Love”.  Paul knew that love could be done with knowledge and gave us his wonderful description of love in the New Testaments, First Corinthians, 13.  Rumi knew love knowledge must be discovered and learned and put his teachings into his grand, wisdom-filled, love poetry.  Buddha gave us The Song of Compassionate Love, and Jesus gave us his teaching parables on love.

Many other ‘wisdom masters’ of old implored all of us to become love knowledgeable and, therefore, bring about greater love success in our lives, in the lives of others and throughout the world.  Modern science increasingly is backing up what the wisdom masters of old were teaching.  Hopefully, this will boost your own ability to become more love smart and, thereupon, more love successful.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
So far in life have you depended more on being lucky at love or on learning about love?

Gender Diversity & Romantic - Heart-mate Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #195

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is designed it to help people get clear on the confounding romantic and heart-mate love, lifestyles & sexual issues that stress and distress people who have gender diversity issues and those who seek to understand and assist them.

Love and Gender

We all are built to give and get love.  Also we all are built having gender and with that comes our sexuality.  Our gender factors influence our romantic and heart-mate love thinking, love feelings and love behavior.  Science increasingly shows much of our gender and love processes are natural phenomena largely occurring in our brains but also affecting our bodies in a great variety of ways.  Love, gender and sexuality all turn out to be a lot more diverse and varied than we used to think.  We should not be surprised about that because nature can be said to love variation and diversity.  That probably is because of its great survival value for our species.  By the way, science shows all this to be true not only for humans but for a lot of different kinds of higher order species.

In regard to gender, there is a lot more going on than being just strictly male or strictly female.  Some people are born physically both.  Some are understood to be born both genders in their brains but not in their bodies.  Others have the brain of one gender and the body of another.  There seem to be others who go back and forth, and still others who spend part of their life as one gender but then natural forces within them emerge bringing about a change to another gender.  After that, natures variations start to get complicated and hard to describe.

Now, let’s add in sexuality.  Did you know that some people are sexually attracted to both men and women but may only want to do heart type or spousal love with one of those.  Then there are those who romantically love and want to live married to both.  Are you aware that occasionally a head injury can result in a change of sexual preference.  On and on variety goes.

The truth is if you can think of a love, lifestyle or sexual relationship variation, it is a good bet that somewhere on our planet there are people doing it.  Not only that, but all that diversity may be backed by naturally occurring, normal, healthy variations in the brain motivating the variant sexual/love/lifestyle (different than usual) behavior.

Gender Is Not Binary but Your Society/Culture May Be

You do not really choose your gender.  Via nature, your gender chooses you.  For some people that can seem like a quite befuddling choice.  For others it is a very threatening and highly stressful, confused choice.  Usually that is because they live in a culture or society that pigeon holes all people into strictly either male or female.  For the bisexual, homosexual, transsexual, and anything-else-sexual, this can be a really big, life warping and even life-threatening problem.  In more loving societies and in those becoming so, diversity in love, lifestyle or gender variation, life can be easier, safer, healthier and more naturally actualized.

Becoming Aware of the Questions Gender Diversity Can Bring

Who or what are you attracted to and who is attracted to you?  Is it different from who you want to love and be loved by?  Is that different from, or in opposition to what you have been taught?  The questions can become ever more difficult.  For instance: If you are a boy who lusts for girls but wants to become a girl, does that make the inner you a lesbian?  If it does, is that a moral issue or a religious issue or maybe even a non-issue?  If your questions are confused how can you ever discover what is true or real for you and about you?  How can you become okay in a culture that says it is not okay to be you?  How can you give and get  love healthfully in society that will punish you for deviation from its norms of how people should and should not love?

These are but some of the stressor questions complicating the romantic, heart-mate and spousal love lives of those having a gender diversity.  We suggest this means the gender diverse really can use lots of good, healthy, friendship love, family love and help with their own healthful self-love development.

Gender Conflicted Romantic and Heart-mate Love

For those who are unresolved about their gender identity, there often is painful and confusing difficulty concerning what to do and what not to do romantically.  That blends into what to do and not do socially, sexually and maritally.  Romance and spouse type love for some seems like a lonely impossibility and hopeless or at best problem-filled future.  Some give up trying, others decide to settle for whatever and whoever comes along, while still others pretend or work desperately to become a normal heterosexual.  That can lead to becoming trapped by one version or another of a false love syndrome, a fake marriage or having a conflicted life of infidelity subject to it’s ruinous ravages stemming from deception and betrayal.

Daring to reveal one’s true, sexual proclivities to a romantic interest, can present an agonizing life labyrinth to attempt navigating through.  Just figuring out who you are attracted to and who can be attracted to you is hard enough for anyone having any gender confusion.  Nevertheless, when romantic or heart-mate love connections do occur and are sufficiently reciprocated, real and marvelous love can occur and grow.

Another problem is what to do with one’s sexuality.  Gender variant people often have gender variant sexual desires.  This clearly and easily is seen in the intensely bisexual person who naturally wants to have sex with both males and females and even perhaps with others who are less easily gender identified.  That, by the way, might qualify them for being a bit omni-sexual.

Sexual experimenting, toleration for variance, alternate lifestyles like group marriages, communal living & other unique relationship arrangements can come into play in these situations.  Running afoul of cultural norms based in heterosexuality is common in these situations and, of course, adds to the stressors involved.

Around the world and throughout history, one can find successful examples and models of how these gender variations have been successfully handled and where healthy, real love has prevailed.  Sadly, there also are lots of examples where it has not.  Openness to heart-mate love of many variations is growing, especially in urban centers around the world.  Push back regressive reactions against these relational variations also are growing fueled by prejudice, judgmentalism, condemnation and irrational fear.  The worldwide trend, however, seems to be a bit more pro-love than anti-love for those of varying gender orientations.

A Synthesized Solution

Who do you feel attracted to?  Notice that this question is not what gender do you feel attracted to.  That too is an okay question but I suggest not the primary question.  If sometimes you are attracted to a kind, generous, funny, sexy, particular person who happens to be a man, and other times you are attracted to the same traits in a female, it’s the traits that may count more than the gender.  In this kind of case, it may be your job to carefully explore both attractions.  But do not confuse attraction with love.  We get attracted for all sorts of different reasons that are not love.

Who do you get interested in?  What do they do that interests you?  How are they intriguing you?  There too, your job is to explore and experiment into that interest.  Something inside you has said, notice that person.  It probably has not said just, notice that gender.  Go explore and adventure carefully with that person no matter what their gender or gender variation is.  Let the relationship grow into whatever it grows into.  It may be a friendship love, a romantic love or even something without a name.

Who stirs you up and gets you puzzled as to what you are feeling?  Go explore and adventure around, with & toward them – carefully.  See who you become with them and what they have to offer.  That is your job assignment coming from deep, inner forces that point you toward particular people you might just end up loving and being loved by.

The love you grow with a person may turn out to be a whole lot more important than their gender or gender variation.  However, the gender factor is indeed an important one.  It may have a lot to do with how your life and future lifestyle goes.

Now, if it totally does not feel right for you to romantically get involved with someone of a particular gender or gender variation, then probably – do not do it.  Do, however, question whether those are really your own, deep, inner, real feelings or are they what you have been taught to think you should feel.

Whoever you love is whoever you love, irrespective of their psychobiological gender.  Whether or not you can do heart-mate or spousal love with them is a question to face later after your relationship has had time to grow and perhaps become one of healthy, real heart-mate love or something else.
One word of caution.  Usually it is wiser to be the chooser than the chosen.  Of course, when it gets to be truly mutual that is even better.

Help spread love knowledge – tell someone about this site and its many mini-love-lessons, okay?

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Can you have some kind of love for any and every kind of gendered person you really get to know,

Connection Matching - A Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson teaches you about love matchers at work; ‘head’ matching; ‘gut’ matching; ‘genital’ matching; ‘heart’ matching; and jointly growing your connection matching.

Love Matchers At Work

Imagine that you are at a college sponsored weekend workshop for people who want to learn how to improve their love connection matching.  You’re in a small group discussion and you hear the following things:

‘Head’ Matching

Sophia says, “I thought he was just right for me. He was super sexy, oh so sweet and kind, and amaze!, amaze! he showed his emotions very easily and well for a guy.  The problem emerged later.  I hate to say it but he just wasn’t smart enough, and the love that I thought would follow the infatuation just didn’t show up.  We couldn’t really talk except in very simple ways.  I discovered that a love-mate I might spend the rest of my life with has to be bright and relish the exuberance of intelligent discourse, or at least be interested in learning to do that . I need that kind of stimulation; it’s just who I am.”

Learn from Sophia.  Are you in need of a good intellectual or mental match for making a good, lasting love connection?  For a mate, a good friend, or a good close family member you really ‘click’ with, will you do best with a good ‘head’ match to go along with a good ‘heart’ match?  If your mental matching isn’t right or compatible enough what will that mean for your relationship?

‘Gut’ Matching

Jacob remarked, “Regretfully, I broke it off with Ava although in many ways, at least on the surface, she seemed perfect.  Ava was bright, and wonderfully educated and we could intellectually talk for hours.  Also Ava was super-sexual, even more than me.  Besides those attributes she was fairly affectionate, rather thoughtful, forgiving and understanding, and I guess you could say kind of loving.  Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

“Well, unfortunately Ava had no guts.  She was a coward about everything, except maybe sex.  Also her range of emotions seemed kind of narrow.  Besides getting scared about all sorts of things, and being sort of sweet or sexy, she was emotionally mostly flat.  She just didn’t get passionate or emotionally involved about much of anything, and wasn’t willing to ‘step out of her comfort zone’.  That’s the reverse of me.  I get excited about all sorts of things.  So our time together got to be rather boring.  Ava helped me realize I need my love-mate to have and show lots of strong feelings and get emotional about all the big, important things in life.  Otherwise, life just passes you by, and I refuse to live that way.”

Learn from Jacob.  Are you in need of a love-mate who, at the psychological ‘gut’ level, shows lots of spirit, knows and shows their emotions well, is somebody who can feel deeply and maybe also quite bravely explore life?  Or maybe you need a person with a milder ‘gut’ makeup.  Being well matched at the ‘gut’ or emotions level as well as at the ‘heart’ love level can be ever so important.

‘Genital’ Matching

Olivia commented, “I broke it off with Mason because, truth be told, sex is a lot more important to me than is was to him.  Until I admitted that to myself, I thought I was going to marry Mason.  I kept thinking sex would get better and become more essential in his life too.  We talked it over and I let him know I wanted more powerful intimacy, lots of variety, and big sexual adventures.

“He said all the right things but his actions didn’t change much.  It was like our parts just didn’t match.  I think my heart knew all along, because I never felt like we really connected at the core heart level either but I kept thinking we would. . I guess I was fooling myself because so many outside parts did seem to match up pretty well.  We were from the same background and both my mother and my friends liked him.  But this big, important, very personal side of me just didn’t fit with that  part of him.”

Learn from Olivia.  How well matched can you and your love-mate get to be erotically?  Poor matching at the psychological, ‘genital’ level can and often does lead later to ‘cheating’, affairs, bringing home an STD, and a growing vulnerability to other seductions.  It also can lead to repeated fights or passive/aggressive friction, and abrasive draining ways of relating.

‘Heart’ Matching

Noah smiled and said, “You all are really helping me think Isabella and I may be really right for each other.  We connect well at all four levels.  Head-wise we talk about all sorts of things and seem to be a really good, intellectual match for each other.  Gut-wise, we cry and laugh and really share our feelings – pretty much all the time.  She’s better at it than I am, but I’m opening up more and more.  And what you’re calling the genital level, well, we are a little na├»ve there but were excited about exploring all sorts of erotica together.

Best of all is how we are at the heart level.  I’ve never felt so much connection and deep respect for anyone like I do with Isabella.  I see how wonderful she is and I’ve never felt so many good emotions as when we’re together.  We’re so much more alive than we were before we met.  We even differ with each other well.  We both want to learn how to love each other in the best ways, and we’re working at that like by being at this workshop.”

Learn from Noah.  Are you working at and getting good at connecting at the heart level?  It’s important to connect at all four of the levels talked about here, but most important of all is connecting really well at the heart level.

Growing Your Connection Matching

Hear what Emma had to say.  “When William and I first met he was all about what you are calling ‘head’ stuff.  He was Mr. High IQ.  But he did it in a fun and interesting way. He got me into reading all sorts things I’d never even heard of, and got me excited about ‘the world’.  Then I discovered he had another well-developed part.  He opened me up to wild, crazy sex and what a scary, wonderful universe that turned out to be.  Then it was my turn.

“Sort of by using sexuality, I led him into getting into his emotions and sharing all our intimate feelings together.  Then intellectually and emotionally we started studying love because we knew we were ‘falling into it’ with each other.  So, I guess you could say William got me into the head and genital stuff and I got him into the heart and gut stuff.  I think it often works that way with men and women”.

Learn from Emma.  Are you good at opening yourself up to what a love-mate, or for that matter a friend might be able to introduce you to, and can you recognize what your own inner, psychological ‘head’, ‘heart’, ‘gut’ or ‘genital’ levels have to offer?  In a love relationship are you willing to work at connecting with another at all four levels?  One of the many, beautiful benefits of becoming a loving couple is how both people can open up new worlds to one another.

Know that most couples don’t match exactly, but rather have high, medium or low connection matching in the four areas we are exploring here. What predicates the development of a really good, healthy, love relationship is the willingness and ability to develop and expand areas that might need some improvement for better connection matching.   In choosing a love-mate it usually is so helpful to consider how good your connection matching is or what the distance between you might be in all of the four areas.

Know that there are many lasting, excellent, love unions where people only connect at the heart level and possibly the genital level too.  In those situations other connection matches can be made with deep, good friendships which satisfy needs at other levels.  Know also that when two people in a love relationship decide to work at exploring and developing their connection matching at all levels they can do it.  And in doing so they can greatly expand the world they get to live in together.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
When thinking about psychological connecting in a relationship at the ‘head’, ‘heart’, ‘gut’ and ‘genital’ levels, which do you think you’re best at and which might you most need to develop further?

What Makes Love Last?

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson first discusses love maintenance and its importance; then touches on male and female false training; followed by a list of a dozen “Lasting Love Factors”; and ends with how those factors might be achieved in your love life.

Love Maintenance

Once you fall in love the rest is automatic, isn’t it?

You will magically live happily ever after once you have found your one true love, isn’t that right?  Once you both make a commitment, get married, etc. you’re in a state of relationship security and the rest is mostly easy -correct?  Of course, intellectually you know these statements may not be true and you might have to do some hard work to keep a love relationship going and not lose it.  Subconsciously, however, you may be programmed to believe in and depend on some very false myths about love and what it takes to succeed as a couple.  No one ever told you a story in which Prince and Princess Charming had to go to marriage counseling to keep their love alive and progressing.

The truth is love relationships take a lot of maintenance work, just like everything else of major and lasting importance.  About love and marriage, a super-rich real estate developer once said, “If you have to work at it (love) something is wrong.”   He went on to explain that if something was wrong with it you might as well get rid of it and start over, which is what he did – marriage after marriage after marriage after marriage.

Almost everybody wants their major love relationship to be lasting.  Unfortunately not much is done to teach people they must do the maintenance work and the improvement work that makes a love relationship last.  We certainly can’t rely on lasting love being magically automatic.

Male and Female False Training

Many a man has been trained to think ‘love work’ is ‘women’s work’.  That’s a prescription for a heartbreaking breakup.  Many a woman and also a lot of males have been subconsciously programmed to think “if he or she loves me they will know what to do, and do it”.  That too is a prescription for a lot of heart ache and an eventual, big, love failure.  Both people in a couples, healthy, real, love relationship will have to work at it, and they’ll have to do that labor in good team work to make it last.

A Dozen “Lasting Love” Factors

1.    There has to be healthy, real love and not sick, false forms of love.

2.    Love repeatedly has to be shown through behaviors to demonstrate, deliver and trigger feeling loved.

3.    Power is democratically shared.

4.    High appreciation and respect are mutual and commonly communicated.

5.    The relationship supports the growth of healthy self-love in both partners.

6.    Both partners repeatedly enjoy each other.

7.    Truth prevails and deception is absent.

8.    Emotions are shared and empathetically treated when shared.

9.    Problems are treated in an ‘I win, You win, Nobody loses and, therefore, We win together’ approach resulting in an ‘It’s us against the problems’ teamwork and not an ‘Us against each other’ style.

10.    The major kinds of behavior that tend to destroy love relationships are absent.

11.    There is high valuing of the love relationship and the love partner and both are frequently and sincerely expressed.

12.    There is a consistent working on the relationship for both growing, improvement and repair when needed, and never taking the relationship or the loved partner for granted or undervaluing either.

Achieving The Above

You can learn and do a lot about all of the above 12 factors.  Also you can do what it takes to make these 12 factors a description of your couple’s love relationship and make it deeply joyous, inspiring, energizing and a lot of simple fun.  Not to work in teamwork with one another to achieve the above 12 factors in your couple’s life could be destructive and dangerous to the health and well-being of your love.  At this website you can find mini-love-lessons to assist you in achieving each of the above 12 factors.  Books, other websites, workshops, seminars, retreats, relationship coaching and counseling, and couples therapy also exist to assist you.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Which of the above 12 factors gives you the most trouble, grabs your attention or puzzles you the most, and why do you suppose that is?