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Showing posts with label problems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label problems. Show all posts

Faithfulness Fears and the Love Cure

Mini-love-lesson  #200

Synopsis: In some surprising and different-than-usual ways, this mini-love-lesson addresses the problem of what to do when someone is troubled by fears that their spouse, love partner, special other is not being faithful.  Included are what to do before you do anything else, the role of healthy self-love, not letting fears take you over, using more and different love relating skills and the importance of self-disclosure love.

Fears to Face and Fight

Are you afraid your special other is secretly now, or going to get involved with someone else?  Do you fear maybe they are in love with somebody else, may be having sex with somebody else or even several other somebodies?  Are you apprehensive that they are planning to leave you for another who maybe has qualities you secretly fear you do not have?  Might it be that your beloved is more attracted to somebody more attractive than you, better at love or sex, or life, or something you are not even aware of?

Are you suspicious about their time with friends, their fellow workers or that they might be spending time with an old flame, an ex or someone you know nothing about?  What is going on when your beloved is spending time away from you?  Or when your beloved is with you are they longing or lusting for another?

There is so much you can fear, suspect, worry about, be threatened by, feel insecure about, have anxiety over and generally drive yourself crazy with.  What are you to do?  How can you get to a dependable, true safety and sense of security?  Should you just try to dismiss these fears if you can, confront your beloved with accusations, spy, be more controlling, restrictive and possessive, repeatedly third-degree question them, hound and/or beg them for constant reassurance, or what?

In my practice I dealt literally with hundreds of couples and individuals where infidelity, cheating, adultery, etc. was an issue.  I counseled even more where these things were a worry and cause of anxiety.  I shall be a bit braggadocios.  I am happy to say that the vast majority of those situations were worked out rather well, often for all concerned including the others sometimes involved.  What I discovered dealing with these aching and struggling clients was that focusing on healthy, real love made the big difference in most of these very agonizing, complicated situations.  So, what follows are some of the love cure particulars that helped the most and are best done before you do anything else.

You Must Include a Strong, Healthy, Self-Love Focus!

Struggling with the kind of fears we are talking about can be very undermining of your self-love including your self-esteem, self-confidence, self security and your all-over sense of worth. (“Self Love – What is it?”)  It is very important you work to keep your healthy self-love as you struggle with fidelity and relational fears.  Otherwise, your fears can take over, distorting your perception and cause you to make a lot of serious relationship mistakes.

Time again, I have seen fears of a lack of faithfulness have a frequently, unrecognized, serious, component problem.  That component problem is twofold.  First, there can be a preexistent, long-standing lack of sufficient healthy self-love.  Second, the lack of self-love gives rise to an inability to accurately examine oneself and one’s own contributions to what is really causing or contributing to the fears about faithfulness.

Without sufficient self-love, there can be a subconscious mindset in the person feeling the fear that works something like this.  “Secretly I think I’m not good enough to be really loved by my beloved.  That means I don’t have the attraction-power to hold or keep my beloved.  If that is true, my beloved is bound to want and get attracted to somebody better than me.  They’re bound to be looking for somebody with qualities I don’t possess enough of.  Maybe they already have somebody else.  Maybe I’m already about to lose them to somebody else.”  At that point, creeping and then flooding into conscious awareness is a growing sense of anxiety-ridden-insecurity and fearfulness.  Out of that comes a driving, sometimes obsessive, need for reassurance and the return of relational safety.  That in turn, then drives all sorts of often self-sabotaging fear-related behavior that seldom gives much relief.

The nature of the fears usually has a lot to do with the areas we secretly feel inadequate or conflicted in.  If we most fear sexual infidelity, our area of secret weakness is probably sexual.  If we fear losing out to someone more attractive, we may not see ourselves as attractive enough, and so forth.  Facing and examining our fears actually may tell us something about where we do need to improve but denial can make us blind to that useful insight.

Not Letting Our Fears Take Us Over

Sometimes our secret sense of inadequacy is more global or total.  That can give rise to very broad ranging and ever varying fears of infidelity.  Sometimes when that happens, the lack of healthy self-love can be so complete that a person becomes fully convinced their beloved is having an affair and fully believing their fears are definitely true.  Sometimes no amount of evidence to the contrary or reality checks can convince us to believe otherwise.  When this is the case, several profound, destructive and dangerous problems can arise.

Fear of infidelity can cause people to start spying on their beloved, invading their privacy, being increasingly controlling, possessive, blaming, obnoxious and unloving.  This, of course, is self sabotaging, counterproductive, anti-love behavior and exactly the opposite of what is needed.

In counseling sessions, I don’t know how many times I heard things like “he or she accused me of cheating so often I finally decided to go ahead and do it”.  That is how self-fulfilling prophecy mechanisms work – you fear something so much, you don’t know you are doing it, but you are making what you fear happen.  Fear-based behavior can crowd out love-based behavior and result in exactly what you fear most.

Profound, secret insecurity about one’s own power of attraction and worthiness can either result in or stem from the serious mental illness often called paranoia.  One of the syndromes of paranoia involves slowly, increasing crazy, fear-based fantasies of infidelity which the sufferer believes are real.  That can lead to destruction of the marriage or romantic relationship which actually sometimes gives temporary relief to the sufferer.

Rarely, it also can result in the sufferer physically abusing and even sometimes killing their spouse or love partner and then themselves so as to at least be with them in death.  Some think people who are prone to the fatal attraction form of false love are strangely attracted to just the sort of people who suffer from this deadly form of paranoia.  I have treated people where indeed this did seem to be the case (see “Fatal Attraction Syndrome – A False Form of Love”).

More and Different Love, Not Less, As the Love Cure

After self-examination and self love work, there is a second area usually needing attention.  It is not whether or not your beloved actually is being or wanting to be unfaithful.  Before getting to that issue, let’s look at the issue of love-relating and the quality, quantity, nature, and skills involved in your love-relating.

You see, you can have lots of real love and feel lots of real love for someone you love.  However, that is a very different thing from how well and often you do the relating of your love.  It is not enough to know you love someone for it to do you and them the good it can do.  You have to relate it or actively send and receive it, preferably with skill and coordination ( see “Love Is Natural – Love Relating You Learn”).

Occasionally it seems we can subconsciously sense poor or insufficient relating of love and the poor or insufficient interrelating with love occurring in a relationship.  That can arrive in our conscious awareness as a vague fear that gets interpreted as a fear of losing our beloved to someone else.  With that interpretation, we can mistakenly focus on defending ourselves against outside threats that do not really exist instead of improving our love-relating actions.

To avoid that mistake, ask yourself these questions.  How well and often am I, and are we, relating our love?  Have my ways or our ways of showing our love dwindled in quality, creativity, freshness, depth, intimacy, closeness, sincerity, power, realness, appreciation, or many other ways?  Am I or we custom tailoring and making special our love-relating?  Are we making and remaking our ways of love-relating current with who we are today, or are we a bit behind and out of date with what is current for both of us in today’s life?  How do we need to do our love-relating differently and better?

The Incredible Importance of Self-Disclosure Love

Many who have fidelity fear issues try to sneak up on the problem by just being better lovers, sex partners, more affectionate or nicer, but they do it secretly and without the necessary self-disclosure.  Doing those improvement things is good except that it may lead to missing the real issues involved and also the intimacy and closeness that realness can bring.  It also avoids team-working the issue together which usually is much more successful and love producing.
Of the eight major ways to show love directly, self-disclosure probably is one of the most important for fixing fidelity fear problems. (“A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love” and Recovering Love book).

This means that in loving ways you self-disclose that you have fears and insecurity concerning your own attraction power and your ability to keep your beloved from wanting someone else.  You ask if they think you and both of you are relating in and with love well enough to keep things faithful and sufficiently safe from outside threats.  You do that directly because those two things are at issue whether you consciously know it or not.

Thus, you bravely expose your insecurity and risk being chided, misunderstood or ignored, or just possibly lovingly dealt with and respected for your bravery and realness.  Do not hide your fears and try to look more okay than you feel, but do not overdo it either.  Also, self disclose that you as part of this love relationship may need new, better and different relating-work alongside the work of your love partner because, that too, turns out to be almost always a true need in the relationship.  Do not blame, accuse, find fault with, guilt trip, beg or be defensive.  Do good listening as you internally do good self-love.

Now, after working with all that you may be ready to lovingly ask if your fidelity fears have any basis in reality and, if not, could you please have some sincere loving reassurance anyway.

If you do hear that some form of unfaithfulness has or is occurring, do not totally despair, turn into a condemning parent, or retreat into being like a severely abused and hurt child.  A timeout is okay if needed.  The question to ask, and face, is what do you both want to do about it.  To work that out, couple’s counseling with a therapist experienced in dealing with faithfulness, affairs and cheating issues is highly recommended.  You also might want to look at the mini -love-lessons titled “Infidelity and Love”, “Infidelity & the Love Messages That Block & Stop It”, “Adultery and No Divorce Love”, “Forgiveness – A Much-Needed Love Skill” and “Forgiveness in Healthy Self-Love”.

Help spread the word.  Knowledge about love-relating helps.  Tell someone about our Mini-Love-Lessons and this site.  Okay?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: What do you think about the fact that most couples stay together after one, or both, have an affair, and they report they are glad they did, while most couples who break up over an affair are not?

Dealing With Love Hurts: Pain's Crucial Guidance

While life’s greatest joys can occur because of love some of life’s greatest hurts also can occur because of love going wrong, gone wrong or love lost.

Love relationship failure and its profound agony, the despair of love leaving, the brutal stab of love rejection, the anguish of love betrayal , the angst of love in doubt, the sickening emptiness of love never present are but some of the hurts we humans face when dealing with insufficient and malfunctioning love.

Few people are raised with good examples, helpful knowledge and useful guidance concerning dealing with the many types of hurt possible in love relationship situations.  The good news is we can learn the skills it takes to cope and even grow from these painful experiences.

What to do when we are deeply lonely for a love that is absent?  What to do when we are involved in a love relationship that is becoming more agonizing than enriching?  What to do when in spite of our best efforts destructiveness is mounting and constructiveness disappearing?  Right this minute around the world there are countless millions facing how to cope with abandonment, feeling unwanted, continuing on when profoundly neglected, being repeatedly demeaned, seriously disregarded, suddenly displaced, and worst of all is not knowing how to get back up and try again after being disastrously love defeated?

Well, I know something of the answer to these questions both from my own personal life love hurts and from working with all the suffering people who have come to me for help with their love hurts.  Take heart and be hopeful if you are hurting or have hurt from similar difficulties!  You can surmount the pain and, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, fly again more beautiful, more powerful and far higher than ever before.

The vast majority of the people I deal with who seek assistance with these love relationship agonies do recover, and learn to soar again going on to love victories greater than what they knew before.  Sadly, of course, there are some who don’t.  They let love relationship related pain bring them down.

Relapses into addiction, profound ongoing depression, long-lasting anxiety, fear-based living and self-destruction of many types are all too often the result of love relationship pain inadequately dealt with.  If you are hurting due to problems related to love I dare you to suspect you can recover.  If you’re not hurting right now but have before, then dare to suspect that none of that deep hurt has to happen to you again.  Dare to believe that “seek and you shall find” is true when it comes to getting over love relationship pain and going on to the victories and joys of a new and different healthy, real love done well.

So, let’s talk of some of what it takes to adequately and successfully deal with the pains that sometimes come along in our love life.  I like to suggest that you start with the idea that all hurt has something to offer.  You see, hurting has usefulness.  Hurt exists for the purpose of guiding us away from harm.  It is important not to confuse hurt and harm; they are quite opposite and are actually enemies of one another.  Hurts are feelings.  Harm is a condition of destructiveness.  Hurt causes you to jerk your hand away from the hot stove before your hand is truly harmed.

It is hurt that gets you to go to the surgeon who takes out your appendix before it blows up and kills you.  Thus, hurt saves your life.  Emotional hurt can get you to study how to do love well so your next love relationship efforts are better.  Yes, hurt in essence is your friend trying to guide you away from harm.  One of the most dangerous things in the world are those diseases which cause no hurt until it is too late.

Some of the most dangerous relationships are those in which one person, without warning, suddenly explodes with long suppressed, hidden hurt and in doing so suddenly causes another person great harm.  Had the hurt been expressed and mutually dealt with they might have worked out a better resolution for all concerned.  Hurt warns us something is wrong and tells us do something different.  Our job is to work with hurt against harm.  This is especially true for hurting, loveless individuals and for those in painful love relationships.

Therefore, a very important thing to do with the pain you experience in a love relationship is to go looking for the ‘guidance message’ in that hurt.  These guidance messages that come from pain can vary greatly.  Your hurt may be sending you a message that says, “Learn to ask for what you want better”, “Do more loving listening”, “Mix sex and love better”, “Stop taking everything so personally”, “Go to counseling”, “Get a divorce”, “Find somebody better”, “Run away” or a thousand other things.

Then, of course, you have to evaluate the message against all the other factors involved.  The trick is to act constructively not destructively.  If possible do that for all concerned.  Remember that hurt always says do something different.  If you don’t do something different expect more hurt.  Your love for someone may tell you to endure the hurt and that may be more important than hurt’s message to do something different.  However, remember that hurt warns you that harm may be coming your way unless you change something.  Hurt becomes harmful when it grows too big for you to be able to get its guidance message.

Often that happens because you have not paid attention previously and sufficiently to hurt’s guidance message.  Here’s a simple example:  Joe kept falling for cold, distant, difficult women.  Once he had such a woman the agonies of dealing with her became intolerable.  Each of these relationships hurt more than the one before.  Finally he heard his hurt’s guidance message and established a lasting relationship with a warm, close and easy to get along with female, so unlike his mother which is where it all started.

Consequently, a really good thing to do with love hurts is to look for and discover their guidance messages.  You can try to reason that all out and sometimes that works quite well.  Often better and quicker is to do a ‘gestalt internal dialogue’ or ‘psychosynthesis – two sub-personalities exercise’.  It works like this: say “Hello” to your love hurt and ask it “What are you trying to tell me?”  Then in fantasy you become your hurt and say, “Hi self, I am your hurt and what I’m trying to tell you is …” followed by the first thing that pops up in your thoughts.

At first this may take some practice but those who practice usually get surprising and surprisingly useful replies from their subconscious.  When you practice these techniques more they usually help you go much further and get excellent results.  Some people learn from their hurt by journaling or writing out what their hurt is telling them, others draw or use other visual arts, some achieve understanding through music and others through dance therapy techniques.

Love hurt is likely to increase and repeat if you don’t learn its guidance message.  Of course, after learning the guidance message you have to heed that message, and do something different and hopefully better.

As always, go and grow with love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you list what you have learned from some of your past love hurts?  Is that learning still with you or will you have to learn it again?

Dealing with Love Hurts: A Dozen Love Hurts to Know and Grow From

It is wonderful that those who know how to learn from their love related pain do in fact come to do love far better than many others.  It seems such people give and get far more healthy, real love and have far more love related joy.  To understand how this works let’s look at some of the standard guidance messages associated with a dozen different types of love related hurt.

It’s important to know that there are many more types of love related pain than the 12 covered here.  These just are some of the more common ones.  A usual consequence of learning how to successfully deal with a type of love related pain is that one or more types of love related joy becomes more available to you.

Number One: REJECTION  For many people the hurt of rejection involves a secret, subconscious self rejection and a secret suspicion that their rejecters and detractors may be right concerning their flaws.  Learn to love and believe in yourself enough and you tend to be protected from the hurt of others’ rejection.

Number Two: LONELINESS is usually guiding you to get and keep more loving people in your life.  It also may be pushing you to overcome your fears regarding love relating.

Number Three: FEELING DEMEANED is likely to be telling you to stand up for yourself better, and also examine how you might be accidentally rewarding and reinforcing people for treating you badly.  Asking yourself how well you are insisting on good treatment may be essential here.

Number Four: BETRAYAL usually says learn to be much more careful about who and how much you gamble your heart on.

Number Five: JEALOUSY is best understood as requiring you to deal with your own insecurities from which your jealousy rises.  The cure for romantic jealousy almost always involves looking at how you secretly and subconsciously don’t trust yourself as being adequately attractive, worthwhile, desirable or sufficiently love competent to keep a loved one.  When you have enough self love you usually don’t let insecurity morph into jealousy.

Number Six: ENVY tells you to go after something like you see others have.

Number Seven: DECEPTION AND DISHONESTY PAIN both given and received sometimes means you must get much more comfortable with truth and honesty.  Generally the more you are dishonest the more you won’t trust others because they may be deceptive like you.  The underlying guidance message usually is something like “grow strong enough to handle displeasurable truths”.  Learn to be strong enough to face truth, give truth and require truth.  Some professionals think that only the love-weak feel they need deception and dishonesty in love relationships.

If you are dishonest and deception-dependent why not work at growing your ability to live with, and mix your truth with your love?  If the pain of discovering dishonesty and deception has come your way look at how you may be accidentally helping others think they need to deal with you deceptively.  You may be seen as too critical, judgmental, etc. or you may come across as too weak to be able to handle the truth.  If you are, or appear to be, rather na├»ve you may be inviting unethical people to use and abuse you with their dishonesty.

Number Eight: BOREDOM in love relationships can be seen as a guidance message to do something different and probably something more lively than you have been doing.

Number Nine: ANXIETY in a love relationship gives you the message “search for what may be going wrong or threatening your love life, love network, main love relationship, etc.”.  Then if you discover something destructive take corrective action.  Carefully begin to do something to lessen or eliminate whatever threatens your love situation.  Don’t let the fear of doing something wrong, or making it worse, totally stop you because doing absolutely nothing is very likely to make it worse in most situations.

Number Ten: DEPRESSION in a love relationship, and possibly depression in general, may be telling you you’re not getting enough healthy, real love.  Depression gets you to stop everything and inventory what’s wrong, what’s missing and what’s needed.  This usually has something to do with the quality and quantity of love and the love dynamics in your life.  Don’t forget to inventory and count love from and for yourself, love from multiple sources, and what may be referred to as higher power love. (See blog entry “Is Depression Love Starvation?”)

Number Eleven: TURMOIL related to Love And Sex usually is sending you a message about how well, or not well, you do emotional intercourse, and how you may be subconsciously programmed to not let yourself be fully lovingly sexual.  You and a partner may need to work on doing lots of sex with love in teamwork and in team play.  Sex and relationship therapy may be needed.

Number Twelve: FEAR in love dynamics is usually trying to tell you that you or someone important to you may be harmed.  A sense of fear is to be honored but usually not allowed to dominate or overwhelm.  Moving carefully forward into areas you fear, in small steps, is often the cure.  If your mind tells you that you may be hurt, but not harmed, the cure may be to feel the fear and do it carefully anyway in many circumstances.  It’s also very useful to examine ‘if the worst happens’ how will you handle it, before that ‘worst’ happens.

Thus, if what you fear involves possible physical or psychological damage to yourself or others, major lifestyle damage to yourself or others, major opportunity loss to yourself or others, then extreme caution and probable escape from the fearful situation is likely to be indicated.  Fear that causes you to panic or freeze means you may be dealing with something eminently dangerous and you may need the protective help of others as soon as you can get it.  Love relationships  that involve the frequent, repeated experience of strong fear are often destructive and indicative of false love rather than real love occurring.

Each of these twelve pains can be  associated with love going wrong in small, medium or large ways.  As such they constitute warning signs that improvements are to be made if your love relationship is to be protected and continue.  Each of the understandings of these love hurts and possible actions to take are just sample possibilities.  The specific guidance message you receive from a love related hurt, or pain, may be different than the usual or common understanding given above.  Your pain may be pointing at very different messages or lessons which you will do well to search into.  Note, a fair number of people report that when they learn a guidance message from a love related hurt the pain frequently diminishes or disappears.  However, if you don’t act on what you’ve learned it may come back.

Working with your love related hurt instead of fighting it, or denying it, or just medicating it can involve hard psychological and emotional work.  However, in the long run that kind of work is a lot easier than making the same love mistakes over and over and feeling the same love hurts over and over again.  It’s also better than just trying to exist love-defeated.

Talking things over with loving friends and family often can help, and working with a love-oriented counselor or therapist can do wonders in dealing with love related hurts.  Meditation, prayer and what is sometimes known as ‘universal love work’ along with higher power work has been known to help many enormously.  Remember, you must do your own share of the love work.  That seems to be an essential part of your own love health and healing.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love  Success Question
Can you identify and label the type of love related pain you are most vulnerable to?  If so are you working to build a better, healthy, self loving defense against that type of love related hurt?

Image credits: “Know Grow” by J. Richard Cookerly.

Dealing with Love Hurt: Diagnosing Love Hurt Accurately

Are you good at diagnosing your love related hurts?   When you get hurt (small, medium or large) in a love relationship situation are you good at figuring out what to do about it?  When you have a pain seemingly coming from something going wrong in your love circumstances do you quickly and accurately know what to do to stop it from getting worse and to make it better?

Did your family teach or model for you how to successfully deal with the many emotional hurts that can occur in all types of love relationships?  Are you good at learning from love related hurt and using it to make love relationship improvements?  If your answer is mostly “no” to these questions, take heart, all this can be learned.

Good “hurt” diagnosis means figuring out three, basic, big things.  First, what ‘harmful’ event  is occurring, or is in danger of occurring?  Second, what is to be done about both the hurt and the possible harm it points to?  Remember, hurt is the enemy of harm (see blog entry “Dealing With Love Hurts: Pain’s Crucial Guidance”).  And third, what can we learn from it?  This means asking ourselves  questions like What’s wrong, What can be done to make it right or to make it better, What can be learned to prevent what’s wrong from happening again, and What can be learned to advance and sustain improvement?.

Also it may mean asking ourselves what useless, fruitless, self destructive, wasteful, idiotic, unhelpful, wrongheaded, prejudicial understandings do we have that we need to get out of the way before we can diagnose our hurt accurately?  Many a person messes up their ability to diagnose and improve their hurtful condition by seeking to blame someone (maybe themselves), or they spend a lot of time on useless defending of mistakes, or they just dodge the whole thing because it’s hard to figure out accurately.   Then too, lots of people only work on what went wrong and never get around to working on what can be done to make it better.  Good diagnosis means arriving at a good treatment plan or improvement strategy.  Nevertheless, if you want to diminish hurtful and harmful happenings in your love relationships, or want them to be eliminated, the useful diagnosis of what your hurt can tell you is vitally important.

When working with love related hurt I like to ask people what they think the guidance message is that’s inherent in their hurt.  Usually at first this question is confusing but then with work an understanding of hurt’s natural guidance message starts to emerge.  Some of these guidance messages are easy to understand and others are quite complicated.  The hurt called ‘loneliness’ is likely to be telling you to go find someone good and loving to be with.  ‘Love related anxiety’ is usually attempting to guide you to search and discover what love-destructive thing may be on the way to happening.  Of course, once identified you’ll probably have to do something about it.  Frequently this involves doing more work about creating love relationship safety.  Love hurt from ‘betrayal’ in a love relationship usually carries the message to be more careful about investing one’s trust.  Hurt in betrayal also is usually about not giving one’s power away to others so that their actions can damage you or be used against you.

When you don’t learn from hurt in a love relationship situation, hurt likely will act like a good friend and come on stronger and more often until you get its guidance message.  I like to suggest that almost all forms of suffering which have to do with love relationships contain a common basic message.  They all usually are, in essence, saying “learn to do love better”.  Much like the message of hurting your hand on a hot stove, the hurtful message is to learn to cook more carefully.   It does not work well to quit cooking or give up eating because you got burned touching the stove.  Don’t give up on love, just learn to do it better.   Like it is dysfunctional to give up driving a car because you got hurt in an auto accident, so it is dysfunctional to give up on love because you have been in a love wreck.  Learn to drive the car and the love relationship better or you may have another wreck.

Unfortunately love hurt is one of those areas in which lots of people don’t know how to arrive at an accurate diagnosis of what’s going wrong and what to do about it.  Therefore, they don’t get the helpful message inherent in their hurt.  The basic diagnostic message that says “learn to do love better” may not be one of your culture’s or your family’s teaching.

Consequently that message may be rather strange and working with it may be unfamiliar to you.  In the Western world culture, and others, too many people have been programmed to believe that love is all automatic and magic, and that we are but helpless fools waiting for our love fate to overtake us.  I never trust training in helplessness.   All hurt tries to tell you to diagnose what’s wrong and do something about it so harm is avoided.  Hurt related to love is no exception.  Sometimes the diagnosis tells us to temporarily endure the hurt so as to avoid greater harm.   Occasionally the diagnosis yells “Escape as fast as you can because you’re about to be destroyed”.  Often the diagnosis is telling us just to change some of the ways we go about love and learn to do it more fully and better.

Another destructive training sometimes occurs which damages the love dynamics of that special love relationship called parenting.  It usually goes something like this, “What was good enough for my parents is good enough for our children”.  Usually this type of statement means that the parents who think this are resistant to learning the better, more well researched and discovered, improved ways of doing parenting.  I sometimes like to ask people to name some areas of life in which there have not been improvements over and above the way their parents or grandparents knew to do things.  I don’t get many good answers.   Let me suggest ‘love and parenting’ are not exceptions.

The knowledge exists on how to do both far better than once was commonly practiced.  However, in some cases truly ancient knowledge, that somehow went out of style, and the most recent developments correspond beautifully.  One of the newer and yet ancient understandings is “learn from your hurt, that’s what it’s there for”.  Another one is “it’s insanity to expect new and better results from repeating old actions that have failed time and time again”.  So, unless you’re hurt is overwhelming I want to suggest you work to understand every part of your hurt’s guidance message.  That is likely to be the best way to eliminate or reduce the hurt and not repeat it.  If the hurt is overwhelming get some help from a good love-knowledgeable counselor – you don’t have to suffer interminably.

Feeling hurt is a natural life system and all life systems can malfunction.  There can be too much hurt just as there can be too little hurt.  Hurt can be both subconsciously and consciously exacerbated or denied.  Frequently doing either can be detrimental.  Hurt can go on too long and hurt can interfere with other life systems designed to assist us.  However, most often if you work with your hurt you will learn and be guided to that which is healthier and happier.  Deny or over sedate your hurt and it may get worse so that its guidance message gets through to you.

Another thing to be cautious about concerning hurt has to do with what you were previously taught to do about it.  Blaming others, or blaming the stars, the fates, etc., just submitting to it, toughing it through without learning, using it for manipulating others as in ‘guilt tripping’, and playing the victim for sympathy, or getting to be the virtuous martyr and a host of other misuses are to be identified and eliminated.   Lots of people have learned to use their hurt as an excuse for not being ‘response able’ and then get drunk, or do drugs or destructively act out.  For some their love hurt is an excuse for doing violence to others, seeking to ‘get even’ via vengeance, retribution, etc.   Such anti-love actions usually are self defeating and may represent no real love being there in the first place.

There are a few special cases of desired and enjoyed love hurt.  Pain can accentuate pleasure when both are conditioned to occur together, and when the pleasure exceeds the pain.  When a person has felt almost nothing strong or intense for a long time pain can help some people feel much more vitally alive, and for that they are glad.  Case in point: Steve felt he was stuck in a dull, boring job and a marriage that wasn’t any better, neither from which he saw an immediate good way to escape.  He became entangled in a complicated, difficult, painful affair.  He actually was grateful for it because it made him feel excited and intensely alive as nothing had for a long time.

This is an example of a ‘good’ coupled with a ‘bad’.  I am not saying that his approach was all that healthful but it was desired and enjoyed more than bland living.  Certain kinds of physical pain and sexual pleasure occurring simultaneously, especially when there is intense, emotional, love-filled intimacy can greatly add to sexual pleasure for some people whose neurological physiology is built for that.   Some people have been conditioned to believe their pain signifies great love occurring or other similar positive things.  In these cases it still is best to diagnostically think about the presence or likelihood of harm.  The enjoyment of getting permanently damaged is to be avoided no matter how pleasurable it might be to someone.

Let me now challenge you to think about when you have had hurt in a love relationship.  Any love related hurt you have experienced will suffice.  It may have been with a parent, or sibling, or friend, or lover, or a spouse.  Can you identify what the guidance message was in that hurt?  Practicing the skill of identifying hurt’s guidance messages using old hurts can be quite useful in learning to do love hurt diagnosis well.  If the old hurt still hurts it could mean you have more guidance messages yet to identify.  If the old hurt no longer hurts it could mean you have gotten over that, strengthened yourself, and learned a lot, so be proud of your growth in diagnosing and following the guidance messages from that hurt.

Did the love relationship hurt that you just thought about lead you to break up or go away from someone who would have been destructive or inadequate for you?  If so, be thankful for that hurt.  If similar hurt started today would you diagnosis its guidance message sooner and act upon it quicker?   If you get your feelings hurt in a love relationship today are you quicker to diagnose what you are doing poorly, or wrong, and make improvements in your own behavior.   Are you then quick to figure out what you want different from what you are getting – and ask for it?  Remember, it is important to diagnose your own contribution to your hurt as well as another person’s, and don’t forget to diagnose what circumstances contribute to the hurt.

By reading this you are studying love hurts and how to diagnose them, how to avoid them, how to fix them, how to learn from them and, thereby, do better at love.  So then, the question is “are you going to keep studying”?  If you are having trouble diagnosing your love hurts, remember, it is quite smart, appropriate, efficient and usually highly useful to get help from a love-oriented and love-knowledgeable therapist when dealing with the pain involved in love relationship difficulties.
As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question When you feel hurt in a love relationship situation have you learned the wisdom of looking forward for what to do next about it rather than looking backward in extended analysis, or for whom to blame or what to blame?

Image credits: Original graphic, "Stethoscope" by Flickr user tjmwatson (Tess Watson) modified for use here by Wade Watson.

Feelings Getting Hurt? Use the Hurt for Self-Love, End the Hurt!

 Mini-Love-Lesson #293

Synopsis: Explore the martial arts approach to your hurt feelings, getting upset and dealing with put-downs and criticism; See what can be learned from the barrage technique; Learn how we are taught to hurt and ways to unlearn that; and Find the way to grow your self-love as you shrink your hurt vulnerability.
In the martial arts class, each time an attacker got past an advanced student’s defensive and blocking moves, then managed to strike the student, an interesting thing happened.  The student, after getting up or rubbing a hurt spot, bowed to their attacker and thanked them for the blow that had gotten past the defending action.

Why thank the person who had just hurt you, knocked you down and maybe also embarrassed you?  Well, it is because the student' s defenses had just been shown to need improvement.  The attacker had helped the student learn exactly where that improvement was needed.  The class continued with the student going work on what they had just learned.

What has this got to do with NOT getting your emotions hurt?  Well, whoever says something to you, or about you, and you let it hurt you that is like the martial arts attacker.  An attacker has hit your psyche where it is vulnerable and needs strengthening and improvement in handling what hurt you, or emotionally knocked you down.  So, be thankful.  You can now learn how to better defend yourself instead of letting people hurt, or perhaps harm you psychologically.  That is a healthy self-love thing to do.

You may have noticed that there are some people who seldom get their feelings hurt by what others think or say about them, no matter what it is.  Many of them are not indifferent they are just better at internally defending themselves.  That probably is because their healthy self-love is strong and the self-talk that accompanies it blocks criticism, putdowns, disparagement, demeaning remarks, shaming, and the like, from reaching them.  Grow your healthy self-love and develop your positive self-talk techniques and blows aimed at you either will not reach you or, if they do, they hurt much less.  Emotionally, you are doing what the martial arts master does physically.

How do you learn not to not let put-downs, rejection, disapproval and other negatives get to you, hurt you or upset you?  First, it helps for you realize this can be done, and second that you can learn to do it, and third it is a big help in relating to others, especially in love relating.  Please study this example.

At the addictions treatment center, patients whose relapses involved being easily triggered into one of two emotional states, or both were assigned to encounter treatment groups.  One state was of anger and rage, sometimes involving physical violence.  The other state was feeling the hurt of being shamed, disrespected, looked down on, thought of as inferior or as a loser or other similar downers.

Under professional supervision, everyone in the encounter groups went through various difficult experiences.  One was to be the target of everyone's verbal abuse at least three times.  This was called the barrage encounter.  In this exercise the target person would stand in the middle of a circle of group members who are each 10 feet away.  Then the group would start shouting and screaming every abusive thing they could think of that might trigger the target person in the middle of the circle into reactions related to their relapses.   As they screamed their abusive accusations the group slowly advanced until they were but inches away from the target person.  The first time many targets would begin to cry, some would collapse and others ran from the room.  Still others would double up their fists, start screaming back and become threatening.  When that happened the group would take backward steps but keep barraging their insults and slurs at the target person.

After a time, the barrage exercise was stopped and everyone sat down in a circle. Then the group members, with great kindness, would begin to tell the target person what they previously had learned, with help, when undergoing barrage experiences.  They had learned to silently say affirmative, self-loving things to themselves, along with how to change their breathing and muscle tension while undergoing the barrage experience.  They also expressed how proud they were to have mastered their emotional reactions and how good they felt about themselves.  Furthermore, they described how they were already using what they learned and how they plan to use self-love talk when they returned to their regular life.  Sometimes the target person would practice repeating some of the words and phrases they heard from the group, to have available for the next time they went through the barrage experience.

By the third, fourth or fifth of these barrage experiences, each at least a week apart, the target person was almost always able to calmly and quietly look interested in what was being said to them, sometimes smiling and sometimes looking puzzled but never upset, hurt or angered.  In later group sessions, group members would report back on how using what they had learned had worked during visits home or times back in their regular life.  A follow-up survey showed some relapses did occur but not because of, or involving, the triggered reactions.  By the way, most groups sessions ended with a lot of thank you statements and vigorous hugs.

Some of the more silent, self-talk statements used in the barrage encounters are worth examining.  Here are some examples: "I will not give my power away to others to upset me, and especially, not to these others this time", "Today I love myself too much to let anyone down me!", “I vote myself okay, and I'm 51% of the vote on my okayness, so I win and your votes don't count as much as mine", "I know my God loves me, so why the hell should I care what you think", "I'm reminding myself that what you say to me tells me far more about you than me, and about your need to say things like that", "At my core, I know I am intrinsically worthy of love, so I choose to love myself and be independent of what you think or say", "The old me would try to hurt you right now, but the new me just lets all your shit pile up around you, and not me", "If you really meant what you are saying about me, it would mean you must need a lot more love than I do".

To learn how not to let yourself get overly hurt it helps to know some things.  One is that perhaps your culture and family have been teaching you a falsehood all your life.  That is that it is other people hurt your feelings.  There is a little truth in that but not much.  Let's see if we can prove that to you.

Suppose you get a text message that condemns you, insults you and tells you how worthless and hated you are.  You likely might get disturbed, upset, bothered or have some other negative feeling – right?  Well, not if it comes to you in a language you can't read or speak.  You are likely to just get curious, if anything.  It is not what they think or say about you, as much as it is how you interpret it or have been trained to interpret it that causes you to be upset or affected.  That is good news because your interpretation system is internal, and internal things like interpretations can be changed.  You do not have to give your power away because you've been trained to do so, but it likely will take some effort to re-train yourself.  Here is an example of how.

Suppose you have been trained to be upset if someone angrily tells you to go to hell.  Suppose you re-train yourself to think something  like “Poor person, they've got themselves all upset and want to put it on me”.  You even could add ”I think I'll give them some loving listening and see if that helps”

In learning not to be overly or easily hurt by what others say or think or even proclaim to the world about you, may not be as easy as we might be making it sound.  However, you can do it even though you may have to go up against decades of societal training which made you vulnerable to what others say and think about you.  Also, the closer and more important others are to you, especially loved ones, the harder it may be to avoid the hurt.  The hurt however, can be lessened.  If we handle the hurt well, we can use it to love them and ourselves better.

There also are people that it is important to care a lot about what they think, but not hurt too much if they say things that are difficult to hear.  It usually is pretty significant to care about what your boss thinks, not to mention the police person approaching you.  Both may have had a bad day and may be ready to treat you badly.  Deciding to treat them as well as possible may be your best act of self-love.

There's lots more to learn about healthy self-love and not letting yourself get hurt or harmed, but that will do for now.

Don't forget do talk over this mini-love-lesson with someone because that helps develop your own thinking about these issues, plus it can be fun.  If they don't know about our site, please mention it to them.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question:  If someone gets hurt by what you said, do you blame them, or yourself, or no one; and do you look for ways to make it better without any further hurt happening?

20 Smart Making Love Questions

Mini-Love Lesson #197

Synopsis: These 20 questions are aimed at helping you think smarter and with increasing fascination about the wonders of love and its many mysteries.  Why you will want to do this, why you should do this for your own future good, and how to do this are also addressed.

The New Amazements of Love and Why You Should NOT Learn About Them

Love is even more amazing than most people ever thought.  With the help of science, that is what we are discovering via well conducted research in a wide variety of scientific fields.  New discoveries in everything from (A) anthropology to (Z) zoology and including brain sciences, an assortment of medical fields and even behavioral economics are producing new and sometimes astounding knowledge about love and it’s workings.

To understand and make good use of what is being discovered, you may have to learn how to think about love a lot more than you might be used to.  But wait!  You are not supposed to think about love at all.  You just are supposed to let it happen and trust it will happen if it is meant to be, right?  You certainly are not supposed to try and learn how to think smart about love knowledgeably. “The Anti-Love Forces Are out to Get You” With love, the thing to do is just let nature take its course, correct?

Whether it is falling in love, or love of a newborn or any other love, it will just happen the way it is supposed to according to your destiny, or mother nature, or the stars, divine providence or maybe karma, right?  Trying to actually think smart i.e. informed and knowledgeable about love is not necessary and actually is quite suspect.  Also quite suspect, is learning about any new discoveries or new knowledge concerning love, astounding and useful though that new knowledge may be, right?

Why Should Love Be Any Different?

If you learn to think smarter i.e. with more knowledge, creativity, understanding, wisdom and usability about your health, finances, work, hobbies or any other area of your life, you are more likely to be more successful in dealing with that area of your life, right?  Not only that, but doesn’t remaining ignorant in an important area of your life mean it is more likely there will be major problems and failure in that area?

So, why don’t we teach people to think about love?  Is it because we are afraid it will steal loves magic?  The truth is, that it is a lie.  It is false because the more we learn about any big topic the more amazing and, dare we say, magical it becomes.  Love is no exception.  Science is proving that.

A Way to Get Smarter About Love

Pondering curious and puzzling questions has proven to be an excellent way to learn how to think smarter.  So, here is what I suggest.  Read the following 20 questions and give some thought to each.  Pick the most interesting ones and give them some more thought.  Maybe talk over with someone what those questions bring to mind, and maybe look up stuff and read a bit about them.  Then think this.  How can I improve my thinking about the things I am learning concerning love.  Maybe write out your thoughts and maybe read more?  Maybe talk more to others about love?  Then be sure to work with the more personal instructions given at the end of the 20 questions.  By doing these things, you will be practicing learning to think more and better about love.  That most likely will make your love-functioning better, happier and a lot more interesting (see “Thinking Love to Improve Love”).

The 20 Smart-Making Questions

1. Is love like food, something that comes in many varieties (romantic, parent, pets, self, etc.) and is, at the core, one thing – something that nourishes us, or are all those types of love actually unrelated?
2. Can many people romantically love, or be loved mated, with two people at the same time, like many Mormons, Tibetans and Euro intellectuals have thought, and also why do you think what you think about that?
3. Can real love motivate harming or even killing a loved one, as many police conclude, or is it insecurity, possessiveness and false love misidentified as real love which causes that violence?
4. Who is right, St. Paul who taught love is not jealous or the French courts of love who ruled jealousy was proof of real love?
5. Is love of comrades the same thing as friendship love, or are there distinct differences?
6. Can friendship love include sexuality?
7. Do lovers who forgive adultery have a stronger (better, bigger, healthier, etc.) love, or weaker (insecure, dependent, etc.) love than those who do not forgive adultery?
8. Is love the prime spiritual force in the universe from which all other loves come, as several major religions teach, or is it just one of many feelings we can experience?
9. Is love just an emotion, or is it a vital natural process which triggers many different emotions?
10. Who’s right, some social scientists who said love is an invention of culture having no basis in natural fact, or the behavioral scientists who trace love back to the dinosaurs and the development of the brain’s limbic system?
11. Do animals actually love or can only humans love?
12. Can the lack of healthy, real love in one’s life cause serious physical and psychological health problems?
13. Was Ovid right when, in the year one, he taught that lasting love requires skill and, therefore, the work to develop one’s love skills, or is the more common concept that lasting love is a matter of luck and just finding the right partner correct?
14. Do people who learn to think about love more fully, accurately and extensively achieve more success in love relating than do people who rely on love success being determined by some mysterious, unknown force?
15. Is romantic love just one of many types of love, or is it separate and essentially different from all the other types and kinds of love?
16. Do we find love or do we grow love, and which concept is better to focus on and work with?
17. Who is right, those who say self-love is a good thing or those who say self-love is a bad thing, and why?
18. Can people really love their family, clan, tribe, state, country, cause, work, art, religion, deity, nature, life, people, humanity, the universe, etc., or is using the word love just a way to say something is important and valued?
19. If we experience real love for someone, is it forever as some religions hold, or for at least as long as we live, or can real true love die, fade away, dissipate and no longer exist?
20. Of the following, who do you suppose has the most useful, valuable ideas and understandings to teach us and help us learn about love, and also of these, who would you be most open to learning from?
(The following all have things to say about love)

A. Behavioral scientists (research psychologists, ethnologists, etc.)
B. Brain scientists (neurophysiologists, neuropsychologists, etc.)
C. Social scientists (sociologists, social psychologists, etc.)
D. Mental health practitioners (counselors, clinical psychologists, etc.)
E. Medical professionals and practitioners
F. Marriage and family therapists, couples counselors, etc.
G. Philosophers, (including seers, sages and wisdom masters of old)
H. Poets and songwriters
I. Theologians, religionists and clerics
J. Romance writers
K. Grandparents, family, friends, etc.
L. Others      
Do you want to include in this list astrologers, fortunetellers, matchmakers, shamans, rishis, curandaros, etc. and do you also want to think, of all these, which ones would you mistrust the most?

Dare to Make It More Personal

Now that you have seen the general questions and given them some thought, dare to make it all much more about you and your own personal love life!  You can do that by going back through the questions and seeing which ones you can easily restate using the word you, meaning yourself.  For example, question #2. becomes “can or could you romantically love two people at the same time?”  Some of the questions take a little bit more rewording than others.  Then too, you might want to make some notes on your current thinking about the questions that are more personally applicable.  You also might read and/or talk to someone with more intimate, self-disclosure occurring.

Another way to make this exercise more personal is to think about someone that is special to you and apply the questions which you suspect that person would believe, feel, or do.  For instance, question #2. becomes “could someone special to you romantically love you and someone else at the same time?”  Then ponder about how that might change how you think about this question and about that special someone.

The third way to make it more personal has to do with talking to a special someone honestly and openly about what you both think and feel when dealing with each question, both in general and more personally (“Startup Love Is Never Enough”).

Connecting with the Wisdom of the Ages and the Cutting-Edge

In ancient times and again in the Renaissance, European people read, thought and wrote about love quite a bit and they did this as intelligently as they could.  That is, they did it until the Catholic Church began to ban profane i.e. non-sacred and not church authorized thought, speech and writings about human (as opposed to spiritual) love.  Widely read and talked about books such as, in English called “Dialogues of Love” written by and for Jews but of much broader popularity and “The Art of Love” in five volumes and “Remedies for Love Sickness” were suppressed and disappeared.  It probably was not until Stendhal in the early 1800s tried to intelligently research love and wrote his eventual breakthrough book “On Love” that some people began to give love serious, intelligent thought.

Today Loveology (as it is being called and pioneered in Russia) is being looked at along with happiness in China, is being studied in laboratories in the West and researched in many academic and scientific fields around the world which is starting to produce astounding (magic like) results.  You to can join this cutting-edge thinking smart about love phenomenon.  Maybe by reading this mini-love-lesson you just have.

Help spread love know how, tell someone about this site.

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

Love Success Question  Is there anything happening in your mind working toward dodging, postponing, being reluctant about or vaguely disturbed about learning to think smarter about love?  If so, what do you suppose that is all about?

Startup Love is Never Enough !

Mini-love-lesson  #196

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is about helping people get beyond just having startup love and growing on to having lasting love that can work for a whole lifetime and much more.

What Too Many Couples Say!

“It looks like our honeymoon period is over”.  “It seemed like we were so in love at first but now it’s all fading out”.  “Is our love starting to die?”  “We were so great in the beginning but now we’re just getting to be another unhappy couple like so many of the couples we know”.  These are the all too common kinds of comments a great many couples make after a startup of seeming to be very in love.

But wait!  Research shows there are a whole lot of other couples who rapidly recover from that potentially disastrous slump and others who never experience the “honeymoon is over” thing.  They, in fact, just keep getting better and better.  So, what makes the difference?  Is it luck, fate, the stars, communication, is it that one or both of them are doing something the others are not, or what?

Real Answers That Help

For some couples the answer is they didn’t have real love in the first place but rather a form of false love.  It could be limerence or some other false love which means they need to learn about real love and its differences from false love and then what to do about it.  For many other couples they had real and sufficiently healthy love at the start, but there were two very important things about love they didn’t know or didn’t know in a deep and solid enough way.
The Block:   Part 1 of the Primary Answer
The truth is it might not only be about what they do not know.  It might also be about a falsehood so many couples have been taught or subconsciously programmed to believe.  This falsehood blocks them from learning or deeply realizing a preeminent and profoundly needed understanding of an unwanted truth.  It is an understanding of what it really takes to succeed at real love-relating over time.  So often the blocking false teaching has to be given up before what really works is able to be learned at the required gut and heart levels.  That turns out to be harder than it might sound because the teaching usually has gotten rooted deeply into our subconscious belief system, and we so want to believe it, and reject whatever contradicts it.  Therefore, let’s deal with that blocking falsehood first.
A Ruinous Doctrine of Romantic Love
A thrice divorced client in great anguish asked me a question I have actually heard put many ways, many times from my patients and clients.  “Once I fall in love with the right person, isn’t that love going to be enough for the rest of my life?  So why do I have to do anything more about love?”  I replied, “If you really have deep love for someone and find out you can get better and better at loving them, won’t you want to do that – get better and better at love?  Isn’t that what true love would have you do?  If you have children, wouldn’t you work to be better and better at loving them?”  The client thought for a moment and then with a look of enlightenment said, “Help me doc, I have so much to unlearn and even more to learn.”
Don’t you or didn’t you want to believe that One day you meet your one-and-only, true love and you both automatically fall in love with each other.  Then by the nature and magic of love you both also automatically live happily ever after.  And that is all you have to do about love.  Succinctly put, that pretty much is the core of the romantic doctrine.
Do you know that it is quite possible that some version of this guiding romance dogma is alive in your very own subconscious mind?  Worse, it could be subtly steering you toward the likelihood of your own romantic ruin?  That can be so, even if your conscious mind sees big problems with it as a guiding, operational principle for your love life.  The research shows that this doctrine, indeed, may work for those who do not get to have an ongoing, real love relationship over time, like Romeo and Juliet who’s lives ended in their teens, and possibly for precious few others.
Do you ever wonder why in so many of the great romance stories, both new and old, the couples do not get to be together for even as much as a year before something wipes one or both of them out or separates them forever?  Possibly it is because if they were a longer lasting couple, the authors of those love stories know the couple would start having problems and would have to learn the real secrets of lasting love or break up.

The Block:   Part Two of the Primary Answer
The Much Avoided Real Secret of Lasting Love
Have you ever run into the idea that families are people farms and what makes them successful is how well the couple starting the farm knows how to work their farm with love.  Please notice the word work and how different that is from the romantic doctrine’s words automatic and magic.
Successful, lasting love-relating takes skillful work.  Ovid, Rome’s great love poet, taught this in the year 1 AD (or CE).  It takes the work of learning how to do love work.  It takes the work of learning loving teamwork; it takes the never-ending work of learning how to give out and take in healthy, real love ever better; it takes the work of growing healthy, real love; it often takes the work of practicing healing love; and it takes the work of learning how to individually love each of the individuals involved in your love network, including yourself.  It also takes the work of learning how to keep fresh or repeatedly refresh, renew and re-enliven your love relating.  The good news is with improvement oriented practice everyone can learn how to do skillful love work.  And more good news, probably it also will be immensely rewarding to you and those you love.

What Startup Love Is Good For

Startup love is only good for starting up.  It seems to be Mother Nature’s way of helping couples get started but after that you have to learn, work and practice a whole lot more than Mom Nature provides.  If you are going to get to have strong, lasting and improving love, you will have to work at it.  Lasting love is complicated, challenging, confusing and lasting love requires continuing commitment and continuing improvement-focused-behavior, in spite of victories and defeats, advances and setbacks.  Becoming complacent with victory or too easily giving up with defeats, is not a path to a strong, growing and lasting love.

Startup love between parents and newborn infants works much the same.  After the early, natural, initial, love bonding of a parent with a child, comes all sorts of work on how to love that particular child in the particular ways they need for their growth and development  (At this site’s mini-love-lessons see Parenting Series: Paul’s Points on Love for Parents).  Those parents who go to the trouble to learn about the major ways of nurturing a child with the appropriate behaviors of love have been showed to do much better than those who do not learn that knowledge or practice it.

Startup love in friendships, with comrades, new family members, with pets and others can work the same as with couples and infants but instead often may depend on slow growth, love development.  In any case, startup love is best seen as something to be added to, by deliberate work at doing better and better love skills development.

If Your Love Is Crashing, Sinking, Fading, Drifting, Slumping or Plateau-ing???

If you sense or suspect a love relationship of yours is doing one of the above, start by thinking about your ways of love-relating.  How are you relating with love and how can you improve relating with love to and with your loved ones?  To learn how to do better, you can do a host of different things.  You can read all the mini-love-lessons listed in the Subject and Title indexes of this site which seem to apply or grab your attention.  You can study the eight major ways or categories of behavior that social psychology research has discovered helps love get delivered from one person to another (Start with the mini-love-lesson titled Behaviors That Give Love – the Basic Core Four). You then can read more about those in our book Recovering Love.

You can work with St. Paul’s list of what love is, what it gets us to do and be in the New Testament.  You can work at talking your beloved’s love language by studying Chapman’ s The Five Love Languages.  You can see if you can find a real-love knowledgeable couples or family therapist, counselor, personal coach, cleric, mentor, guru, or other guide and work with them as an individual, or better yet, as a couple or as a family.  You can look for and go to personal growth and relationship classes, workshops, retreats and also online courses having to do with healthy, real love development.  You can read everything you can get your hands on about growing healthy, real love – which you are already doing by reading this.

In other words, you can start, by yourself or even better with a loved one, doing the work of learning the how to’s of better love relating.  I again want you to think of a farm.  If the people running the farm just rely on nature to produce the crops they soon would go back to living as primitive hunter/gatherers and sometimes starving.  This, in fact, is the same with love.  In regard to love, many live at the hunter/gatherer, primitive people level, unaware that they can do far better.

If you learn, practice and keep working to improve your work of farming love, you very likely will do very well.  If you rely only on startup love thinking it is so great it will last you a lifetime and, therefore, you do not have to work at it – well, good luck, because you probably are going to need it.

Help spread love knowledge, tell somebody about this site!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How do you feel about hearing that you could have inside you a misleading, destructive, non-conscious program effecting how you go about love?

Gender Diversity Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #194
FREE – Over 200 mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries – worldwide!

Synopsis: How a lot of people are a wide variety of something other than strictly male or female; the big problems that diversity presents; what that can have to do with several kinds of love and how those kinds of love can help are presented in this mini-love-lesson.

Whose What And What Difference Does It Make?

Transgender, transsexual, intersexual, gender dysphoric, omni-sexual, bisexual, homosexual, androgyny and other not strictly or primarily straight female or straight male gender variations have been scientifically identified as existing in the human race.  Both psychology and biology offer confirmation of these different gender diversity states being part of natural reality.  Neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuropsychology and other brain sciences in particular yield evidence that gender is much more in the brain as well as much more diverse than previously thought.

What is not very different in all gender variations including heterosexuality is the natural need for love, the ways of giving love and the many beneficial effects of being healthfully well loved.  There are some larger differences in the area of love problems but even in that area there is not as much difference as you might at first think.

But for the gender diverse there are extra confounding complications, conflicts, confusions, stressors as well as some very puzzling romantic and heart-mate dilemmas.  Also there can be some hard to cope with biological concerns.

Perhaps worst of all for many are the very dangerous social and religious value clashes that occur in many cultures and subcultures around the world.  For all too long and for far too many, being gender different has been deadly.  To this day in many parts of the world having certain types of gender diversity can get you physically assaulted, jailed and even killed.

Especially dangerous has been the area of who you love and who loves you.  Romantic and spousal love, family love, friendship love, parent-child love, spiritual love and healthy self-love all have been fraught with stressors and serious problems for those whose gender is other than standard heterosexual.  Children, youth and young adults having gender diversity issues have suffered especially.  Embarrassment, shaming, bullying and religious guilt-tripping push many to suicide.  In pockets of the world, it is getting better but certainly not everywhere.

We suggest all this means the people of gender diversity can use extra acceptance, extra understanding and extra love.  So, let’s look at three very important, different kinds of love and what they can mean for the gender diverse.

Healthy, Real Self-Love

Healthy, real self-love is so often extremely important, hugely needed and so very often hard to come by for the people of prevalent and strong gender variation.  The problem is worse wherever there are prevailing anti-gender variation biases, fears, social norms, teachings and laws.  As perhaps you know, some societies, religious groups and families are much more loving and positive toward the gender variant.  Others are very condemning, anti-loving, rejecting, hateful and even murderous.

The gender diverse are so often confronted with overt and covert hate, rejection, exclusion and severe social disapproval.  Sometimes even worse is this.  Whether it is in a family or a whole culture, there frequently is a prevalent teaching something like “you should hate yourself for being anything but straight male or straight female”.  When that teaching becomes an internalized mindset in an individual, the results can be devastatingly self-destructive.

Doing the hard work of finding and growing enough healthy self-love to survive all that can be the best defense.  That is because healthy self-love is something you can carry with you and always have available.  Without sufficient self-love and its strengthen effects, it is very hard to stay okay when hearing “you’re wrong, you’re sinful, you’re sick, you’re not right, etc. for being the way you are”. 

Whether you hear that sort of message internally, externally or both it is destructive.  Depression, anxiety, self rejection, lonely isolation, escape into addiction, breakdowns and suicide all may result.  The good news is all that can be prevented, blocked and reversed with enough healthy self-love.  The bad news is self-love is taught against just as much as gender diversity is taught against and often by the same people.

Gender diverse youth especially are vulnerable to becoming victims of diversity negation coming from culture, society, family, religion, governments and elsewhere.  As gender identity and preference begins to emerge, insecurity and hormonal based confusions tend to mount.  Furthermore, the development of strong, healthy self-love frequently is quite tentative at best among the young.

If you are not strictly heterosexual, go to work on your self-love.  Learn, know and own the fact that you have a lot to offer and certainly are at least just as worthy as any other human being.  Then find out how your variance from standard is a blessing if you use it smartly, bravely and productively.  Most of all, learn and own the following: The core, real you is lovable just the way you are.  Also own that you have healthy, real love to give and that, all by itself, makes you of high value.
If you care about and/or love someone struggling with gender diversity issues, love them by assisting them toward healthy, real self-love.  See this site’s Subject Index concerning healthy self-love for more mini-love-lessons on how to do just that.

Family Love

Those families that offer accepting and affirming love to a gender diverse family member tend to have and keep better cohesiveness, be more resilient and generally function more healthfully and happily.  Those families who try to force or manipulate a family member into a conformist, gender role that the person is not comfortable with, tend to experience severe family disruption and family dysfunction.  Families that reject, shame, personally attack, expel, condemn, guilt trip and are judgmental against someone showing A gender diversity can and are so often ripped apart by these anti-love ways of behaving.

On the other hand, if family members have ongoing clashes about gender issues but they handle disagreements with loving tolerance and democratic acceptance of each other, they can be quite functional and successful.  Likewise, families wounded by gender issue disputes can be healed by activated family love, whether or not they come to agreement on the disputed issues.  Love focused family therapy can be wonderful for this healing process.

Best of all are the loving families that accept, expect and encourage their individual members to develop themselves in whatever way they want to, so long as it is sufficiently healthy.  Love is not dependent on conformity in such families but rather is given freely for whatever variations come about.  Then those variations become enrichments to the family bonded together by family love rather than restricted by compliance.

Friendship Love

Friendship love has been known to save the lives of those suffering conflicts concerning gender.  Friendship love also is known to greatly help lives to be lived well in spite of discrimination, misunderstanding, prejudice, bias, fact free opinions and the other negatives that commonly beset those who are a bit different in gender.  Friendship love also has been known to counterbalance the anti-love effects of hateful, abusive and indifferent families when they cease giving nurturing love to a family member of a diverse gender orientation.

Friendship love is so often a vital element in the development of healthy self-love among the more isolated individual struggling with gender issues.

A big problem arises when a person of gender variation fears peer rejection and, therefore, hides their gender differences, pretending to be someone they are not in regard to gender preference.  They tend not to do the required self-disclosure needed for the development of deep, real, friendship love.  If they do reveal their gender truth about themselves and they receive loving acceptance from a friend or friends, they then may blossom and their social whole world can change for the better.

If they meet with rejection it can be very dangerous unless they have sufficient self-love or other loving friends.  I do understand the fear and self-protectiveness and I suggest careful patience when deciding who might be a worthy friend to share your true self with.  Observe over time who appears open to differences and start with small revelations to test the water before jumping in the deep end.

Those who publicly show openness and acceptance to all gender variations do a great love-positive service.  They give to those struggling to figure out who and what they are gender-wise and to the self rejecting, the chance to know acceptance, inclusion and real friendship is possible for them.  From such demonstrations of open-heartedness, great and enduring friendships have been known to result.
In the next mini-love-lesson, “Gender Diversity – Romantic, Heart-mate Love” we will cover romantic and mated love issues among those of gender diversity.

Help spread love knowledge – tell some people about this site.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How much do your ideas and feelings about gender influence who and how you love?