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Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts

Sexual Love With Spiritual Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #233

Synopsis: Very different mindsets about this topic help you explore your own, and how you might change your life for the better via love-filled, spiritual sexuality are covered here.  Explanations of spiritual love (even for atheists), sexual love, sexual spirituality, spiritual sexuality and their mixing and more.

Can We and Should We Mix Sex and Spirituality?

Which of these following people think the closest to the way you think?

Trevor said, “I can’t think of sexual love and spiritual love at the same time.  For me it’s almost like they’re enemies or at least they belong in completely different boxes in my head”.

Celia replied, “I’m just the opposite.  To me all real loves (sexual, romantic, parental or whatever) are spiritual.  If it’s not spiritual it’s not real love, no matter what kind of love it is”.

Donald added, “I guess I don’t know how to even start thinking about what spiritual love means and putting the word sexual with the words real love gives me trouble too”.

Darla related, “I’m wondering if that’s what went wrong in my love life.  Just possibly I didn’t do romantic love or sexual love spiritually enough, so maybe my love life was bound to mess up”.

Jacob then asked, “Are we sure we are talking about anything real?  What do all those words really mean?  I know what my religion and sex are but spirituality with sex and love just confuses me.”

Ava emphatically pronounced, “Love and spirituality are the most real things in my life and they’re what make my whole life work right including the romantic and the sexual”!

Noah then firmly declared, “I don’t think we can or should try to mix sex with the spiritual.  Sexuality will just corrupt the spiritual and bring us down into sin”.

What About You?

Which of these people comes closest to having said what goes on in your head if you ponder spirituality mixed with sexuality and love?  Or do you think something entirely different from all of them?

Now for a couple of other possibly life-changing important questions.  What do you think about your spiritual life becoming more sexual and your sexual life more spiritual?  While we are at it, what do you know about the many religious movements and teachings the world over and throughout history that pronounced the unity of the spiritual and the sexual to be a good thing?  Also what do you know about what the religion you are most familiar with has to say about spiritual and sexual love?  Then there is what the nonreligious but spiritually-oriented ideologies and philosophies say?  Finally, do you want to consider the spirituality of agnostics and atheists.  Many say they are quite spiritual.

Now more personally, Do you suppose you will live more fully and more fulfilled if you achieve a greater confluence of your sexuality with and within romantic love and spirituality? Will those you love benefit more from your love if you work to intertwine these parts of your life?

How Were You Taught?

Were you perhaps subconsciously trained to keep spirituality and sexuality in separate boxes in your head like Trevor?  If your love life has been very troubled or disappointing could Darla’s concerns be yours?  About these matters, is your background training deficient, conflicted or just unhelpful leaving you confused like Donald or maybe a bit rigidly dubious more like Jacob?

Figuring out what and how much has already gotten in your head about these issues is often a good way to start exploring for what may turn out to be stupendous improvements in your life.  I say that because that is what has been true for the many who proclaim the integration of sex and spirituality has been for them, nothing short of stupendous.

What Is Real Love?

To answer this question I refer you to the definition of love mini-love-lessons at this site (see “The Definition of Love” and “A More Ample Definition of Love”).

What Is Spiritual Love?

Spiritual love can be described as a sense of mysterious love connection with that which is perceived as being far greater than the self.  It also is seen as transcending the ordinary, the mundane, the usual, the normative, the common and even time and space, and as infinitely profound and often amazingly life changing.

Is all real love spiritual?  Sages of quite a number of diverse spiritual and metaphysical traditions have said that it is.  Interestingly, several teach that before anything there was only love and love in its need to be creative burst forth with the birth of the universe.  Therefore, everything of real importance is of love and especially is that true of sexuality because it can lead to the miracle of birth.  Another shared teaching holds that the substance of deity is pure love from which all real love flows (see “Spirituality and Love, Great and Grand”).

Throughout history and all around the world, those in love relationships, be they spouses, lovers, deep dear friends, loving parents of a newborn or even lovers of life itself, proclaim the experience of love to sometimes be awesomely spiritual.  Many a couple experiencing amazing love-filled sex testify to having undergone a profound, spiritual/sexual experience.

Some reductionist scientists posit that spiritual love must only be some unusual, neurophysical event in the brain.  However, others comment that this reductionist explanation might describe how spiritual love is neurochemically processed and that cosmically there may well be much more to it than that arguably arrogant conclusion suggests.

More Spiritual or More Religious?

Spiritual seekers tend to be quite different from religionists though many are both.  Spiritual quests lead seekers along mysterious paths into the unknown as well as toward uncertain goals.  Religionists, on the other hand, tend more to accept and profess established doctrines and credos.  Spiritual seekers often grapple with the great questions like why are we here and what is my purpose in life.  Frequently they then quest for their own individual answers and personal enlightenment.  Religionists more often conform and adhere to the belief systems provided for them by authoritative sources.  Spiritual seekers can tend to be more open to a diversity of love experiences and understandings while many religionists not so much.  At least that is what some research suggests.

What Is Sexual Love?

Sexual love is easier to define.  It simply is real love integrated with natural sexuality.  As such, it can be experienced confluently with spiritual love.

What Is Sexual Spirituality and Spiritual Sexuality?

These two can be described together as grand and powerful feelings of intimacy while feeling and acting passionately sexual and, at the same time, feeling intensely loving which brings on a sense of transcendental and oceanic connection with that which is far greater than the self.  It often includes awesome feelings of being a part of the universal, unknowable and immensely wondrous.  Spiritual sex and sexual spirituality also can be described as incredibly precious, highly personal, extraordinarily intimate, deep core uniting with the sacred spirit of another and/or a deistic presence.

Exploring Sexual and Spiritual Love Together

By exploring this mini-love-lesson, you already are joining millions of others who have, or are exploring sexual and spiritual love often together with a loved one or more.  I suggest the next step might be for you to read more about it.  There is plenty written.  For that, you might check-out Sacred Sexuality by A. T. Mann and Jane Lyle, perhaps followed by Sex and Spirit by Clifford Bishop. Love and Living by the Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, is full of the wisdom of love and the theological.  For a more deeply psychological understanding, Sexuality and Spirituality, Pursuing Integration by Dr. William F. Kraft will do nicely.  All of these help in giving a fascinating and wonderfully, wide-ranging look at the many components of our subject.  The first two of these sources especially cover what a great many, different approaches actually have done about exploring love-filled sex and spirituality.

Some books give sexual/spiritual procedures to follow in the form of a series of exercises, and a fair number of couples have followed these and reported positively about their results.

A Google search will show you a huge number of other sources, many of which are not very useful in my opinion.  Some are just propaganda for selling a particular brand of religion or costly stuff.  But then again, some sources are quite fine, helpful and less expensive.

The next thing you might consider doing is attending workshops, retreats, courses, spirit quests, getting group coaching and attending other more experiential events.  Tantric workshops and retreats are among the most popular in this area of spiritual sexuality.  These kinds of experience-based events have a great range of intensity and for some are quite shocking.

So, considering the experiential, are you ready for participating in or observing reverent eroticism, prayerful masturbation and sacred mutual masturbation, liturgical naked chanting and dancing, reverential group nude massage, sacramental lovemaking, genital sanctification, risqué and sensuous religious rituals, aphrodisiac ceremony, orgasmic blessedness, Goddess sex and a great deal more.  It is important to select carefully which of these kind of and level of experiences you will be okay with.  Be sure to get enough information ahead of time from those who are in charge.  Many of these are for couples only but there are ones for singles available.  My suggestion is to carefully consider doing at least one or two of these type things but only if they seem to have a lot to say about love itself and are not ridiculously expensive.  Perhaps start with the milder ones and watch out for con artists (see “Sex Fears Mastered with Love”).

Now, if you are in a romantic type, love relationship, consider together following a guidebook or receiving instruction in a course of spiritual/sexual/love-based procedures available via a well credentialed, trained and qualified sex educator, counselor or therapist with some modern loving, health-oriented, spiritual background and see where that leads.

This is not to say that a couple in a deeply loving relationship must search outside their relationship to learn and experiment with combining sexuality and spirituality.  In a mutual, loving and trusting environment, peak experiences can be achieved together.  Just don’t play strike one, you’re out; time and patience often leads to success. Outside alternatives sometimes offer things a couple might not have thought of or instructions that might prove helpful.

One More Little Thing: With whom might you lovingly talk-over this mini-love-lesson, perhaps mentioning where you got the ideas from?

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

Quotable Question: If we keep the sexual and the spiritual separate, who benefits and who is perhaps harmed?

Adultery And No Divorce Love

Synopsis: Bennett’s dilemma, What most couples are not doing about adultery, Adultery’s bigger definition, Bennett’s relief, Adultery commonality, Three major questions to grapple with, Accepting multiple causation, Changing mindsets, Adultery of the heart, Agony, struggling and no divorce love.

Quote: "Everybody’s telling me I should divorce my wife because she’s been having sex with somebody besides me.  Even my priest has said my wife is an adulterer and that provides me with perfectly acceptable grounds for an annulment in our church.  He even offered to help me with the paperwork.  Both my brothers and my sister say “divorce her” and that’s what they would do.  I know she’s committing adultery but I just can’t bring myself to divorce.  I love her way too much to end it.”  Bennett lamented all this in a very anguished individual counseling session late one evening.  I replied, “Perhaps not going toward divorce is going to turn out to be a good thing.

You see most of the people who don’t divorce after adultery are glad they stayed married.  Not only that, but most of the people who do divorce because of adultery a year later are not at all sure they did the right thing.  Many wish they had stayed and worked on their marriage a lot more than they did.  At least that’s what I see in my practice, and there’s also pretty good research that largely backs me up on this.  It seems that more and more people don’t think adultery is worth getting a divorce over, even though adultery is usually an enormous, hurt-filled problem”.

As used here, the word adultery means having secret, sexual or powerfully romantic, emotional relations with someone other than your spouse in a way that involves betrayal, lies, deceptions, a lack of self disclosure and honest sharing, usually accompanied by the creation and maintenance of false and incomplete understandings.

Bennett said, “I’m so glad to hear something different than what I have been hearing. I want us to be one of those couples that didn’t let adultery break them up.  I am going to go home and ask my wife to come to couple’s counseling, and tell her I am willing to do everything I can to help us get past this issue if she will just give it a try with me.”  To make a long story short, he did just that and they came to couples counseling together, and now after some pretty hard work they’re doing great.  In fact they both suspect they are probably doing better than they ever would have had they not learned to handle their adultery problem with lots of new and better ways to do healing love, and re-start their love relationship in bigger and better ways.

Are you aware that the majority of marriages in the Western world, and especially in the USA, go through at least one major event involving adultery (cheating, affair, unfaithful, etc.) and most do not divorce over it.  Of course, for many couples it is immensely difficult and there is a great deal of agony, struggle and recovery work to do.  (See the entries under Dealing with Love Hurts”).  The good news is many couples do the work it takes, and though it is a hard way to get there, their marriage becomes stronger and better than it ever was before.

If you’re facing an issue like the one Bennett was facing here are three hard but important questions to ask yourself.  Is your love greater than your hurt?  (Great love conquers great hurt!).  Is the love you have with your spouse more powerful than what you have been taught to think, feel and do about adultery?  (What you have been trained to think, feel and do may defeat love if you let it!).   How did you help your spouse go toward adultery?  (possibly by demonstrating your love for your mate too poorly, too narrowly, too infrequently, or possibly by behaving with very anti-love actions?).  Notice in this last question we have said “help” not cause.  Primary causal responsibility rests with the primary actor, but other people and assisting factors are to be considered for a full understanding.

Seldom is it wise to see one spouse as 100% victim and the other as 100% perpetrator when it comes to why someone commits adultery.  In couples group therapy Jerry said it quite well when he remarked, “I stopped getting her flowers, writing her love notes, telling her how much she meant to me, taking her where she wanted to go on dates, and in just about every way I no longer showed her the love I felt for her.  So, of course, she had an affair.  What else could I expect?”  Linda said, “I did worse than that.  I kept putting my husband down, criticizing him, not acknowledging his achievements, taking him for granted, I didn’t really listen to him and sometimes I purposefully frustrated him about sex, and was way to prudish.  I did almost every single thing you call anti-love behavior.  The other woman did the opposite of all that, so guess what, he committed adultery with her.  I might have done the same thing if I were in his place.”

There are lots of other important question/positions, but I suggest starting with these three: If you’re love can be bigger than your hurt that’s a fairly good indicator that you both may be able to recover together.  If you develop your own thoughts and chosen actions beyond what you were taught to do, adultery can be responded to in all sorts of new, different and healthier ways.  If you can discover and ‘own up to’ how your actions probably helped adultery happen, and then improve, there’s lots of hope.  These questions are not usually easily or quickly answered, and each leads to other questions you may need to struggle with.  But they often help people move toward the love healing needed.

People’s mindsets are changing in regard to the magnitude of difficulty having sex outside of marriage represents.  Gloria said, “When I found out he had sex with someone he met at work I thought it meant he didn’t love me anymore, and that he wanted to replace me with her.  That was devastating and terrifying to me.  Eventually I discovered he just wanted to see what sex was like with a woman different than me.  That was disturbing but not nearly as horrifying as what I had first thought.  Now we are working it through, and I think we’re going to make it”.

I got asked a sort of peculiar question at a weekend retreat workshop I was conducting on love relationships.  A participant asked, “Just what is the importance of one penis in one vagina as opposed to multiple penis’s in multiple vaginas”?  How would you answer that? Follow up questions in that discussion were, “Do we give too much importance to penises in vaginas or other sex acts”, and “How is it that in some parts of the world people enjoy their spouse having sex with others, while elsewhere others can’t even stand the idea of that happening”.  Perhaps those are questions you might do well to ponder.  It is true that in some cultures and at various periods in history adultery has had almost no importance at all, while at other times and places it has had enormous significance.  There are even societies in which there is no word for adultery in their language, while in others there is a whole vocabulary indicating widespread importance.

If you are struggling with an adultery issue in your life, a great big thing to examine is the influence of your societal, subconscious programming or conditioning concerning the subject of adultery.  You see, your feelings and many of your thoughts may have been pre-programmed into you, and in a sense may not even be your own, true, self-derived thoughts and feelings.  Likewise, what is your training and your subconscious programming concerning love and loving forgiveness?  Do you find yourself more in the “love can conquer all and, therefore, forgive all” category, or are you in the “adultery is marriage’s unforgivable sin” category?  Which of those do you really choose to be in and which is the most healthful for you?

Let’s look at ‘background’.  There are those who think that in olden times the only real reason adultery became the singular, allowable reason for divorce was because the ancient religious elders who made the rules were sexually insecure, immature and quite possibly sexually inadequate.  If that’s true they quite easily were threatened and, thereby, motivated to make big, strong rules protecting themselves.  Naturally, to reinforce their defense they said it was God’s will, and they were but the messengers.  Others point out that patrilineal societies tend to have much stricter prohibitions and punishments for adultery than do matrilineal societies.  Then there are the cultures in which not having sex with guests, visitors and the like, outside of the pair bond is grounds for divorce.  Also consider the societal groups in which everyone is expected to be having extra pair bond sex, and those in which a woman having children by different men is held in higher esteem than a woman having children by only one man.

Here in modern times and places there is a growth in finding ‘adultery of the heart’ to be far more grievous than ‘adultery of the body’.  Marla said, “Just so long as he doesn’t bring home a disease I don’t care who he does what with, except he better not fall in love with her because that’s totally forbidden in our relationship”.  Thomas remarked, “My wife and I can have sex with somebody else but three times is the limit.  After that it might get too emotional and neither of us wants that.  We love each other tremendously and want each other to have all sorts of pleasures, and at the same time we want to safeguard our love because it’s so precious.”  People who think like this in the Western world are a minority, but be not mistaken it’s a growing minority.

There also are a growing number of couples who tell of their love of each other being far more significant than mere sex with others.  “Adultery is a forgivable sin if you really love somebody, so that’s what I’ll work at,” said Jonathan who was struggling with this issue in his marriage.  “Adultery is just not worth getting a divorce over,” said Sondra who was also battling to save her marriage.  “When you have kids getting a divorce because of adultery is just plain selfish and shortsighted.  If you really love them and your mate see if you can stick it out and make something better happen,” remarked Brenda whose marriage was coming back together.  Charles proclaimed, “We have a great deal of love for each other so we’re not going to let adultery defeat our love, and that’s all there is to it”.  So, you can see many couples have a strong “no divorce love”, or at least a no divorce over adultery love relationship, which wins the day for them.

Why explore other times, other cultures and other people’s ways of doing love and sex?  Because it is one way we are more likely to make informed choices in our own love relationships instead of reacting out of subconscious programmed determined ways.

You may be finding it hard to wrap your mind around these ideas, and your heart may be aching, and your gut churning, because for most people grappling with adultery issues is one of the hardest things they ever do.  Adulterous behavior for many leads to almost unbearable agony, great fear, and a great sickening of the heart.  Even so, the message here is take heart.  While most couples will face a real-life challenge in this area most will, with love and hard work, get past it and many will end up in a better functioning love relationship than they started with.  My bias is the smart, the practical, and the most loving seek out the help of a love knowledgeable, nonjudgmental couple’s therapist and get past the difficulties together with help and insight.  With competent couple’s counseling they do this far faster, more thoroughly, and with less pain than they otherwise would have.

Also very important is the fact that by way of counseling they do it with far less destructiveness for all concerned.  Even though adultery can be terribly painful to a couple, divorce or breaking up is quite frequently not the best answer.  Of course, if there is little true, healthy love, lots of emotional and/or other abuse, repeated lies, betrayal and deception, and an unwillingness to truly work for improvement a couple may be psychologically divorced already.  However, adultery’s effects so very often can be overcome by a strong ‘no divorce’ committed love when two people keep working to grow their healthy, real love.

In regard to adultery a ‘no divorce love’ is one that makes an established, shared love more important than relations outside that established shared love, more important than fear, more important than hurt (but not more important than harm), and more important than social pressure and past teachings.  It also must be one in which those in the established, shared love are willing and able to mutually work on the improvement of their love relationship giving it extremely high priority in their lives.
It is my sincere hope that these thoughts will be helpful to you and those you share these thoughts with.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Are you, or will you be working for your love (spouse type) to grow so strong that it can, if necessary, survive an adultery challenge?

Does Sexual Preference Influence Love?

To understand some of what’s involved here let’s first take a look at a few important questions and some possible, or probable, answers that have to do with sexual preference.  Then we will apply that knowledge to love.

Question 1. What causes people to have different sexual preferences?

Answer: The preponderance of scientific evidence points to all sexual preferences – homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, transsexuality, etc. as primarily being biologically predisposed, probably before birth.  There is considerable scientific evidence which shows that atypical gender identity development is influenced by variations in prenatal hormonal and neurochemical factors, which also influence the incidence of left-handedness and finger ratio measurements concordant with sexual preference development.

Furthermore, there are anatomical brain differences, especially in the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, a brain area vital to varying sexual behavior tendencies.  Then there are the genetic influences illustrated by sexual preference inheritability being high among monozygotic twins, and less strong but also high among fraternal twins.  Whatever your sexual inclination you were probably predisposed toward that inclination biologically, probably before birth according to the preponderance of the most recent scientific research.

Question 2. What is some of the other evidence that tells us biological predisposition is causal?

Answer: First, brain studies show a number of different parts of the brain of homosexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals and transsexuals tend to be different from each another.  Especially different are the parts of the brain known as the corpus callosum, medial pre-optic nucleus and the hypothalamus.  Brain chemistry also is somewhat different.

Second, over many decades hundreds of well conducted, psychological studies have been done trying to discover the psychological cause of homosexuality, and no psychological cause has ever been discovered and substantiated by replicated research.  A number of newer theories still are under investigation but so far nothing definitive can be said to have been discovered.

Third, about 10% of most mammals exhibit homosexual preference and another 15 to 20% exhibit bisexual behavior.  Many bird species show similar results.  Bisexual behavior is extremely common among some mammal species like the bonobo apes.  There also are brain differences in various homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual animals.  By the way, some researchers think there is evidence to support the contention that bisexuality is on the rise, especially among human females.  Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest that all people are at least a little bit bisexual.

Question 3. Why do different sexual preferences exist in nature?

Answer: Nature is all about variety and keeping its options open.  We never know when a variation will turn out to help a species survive or advance in its development; for instance the bisexuality of bonobo apes seems to have contributed greatly to solving the problem of violence within that species.  Bonobos when faced with conflict literally ‘make love not war’.  Inter-species aggression so common among baboons, chimpanzees and humans is virtually nonexistent among bonobos, who are the most sexual and the most bisexual of us, who are classed as primates.

It also is to be noted that there are species that change gender, being female for a while, then male for a while, and being heterosexual part of their life, and homosexual another part of their life.  Likewise, there are species that are both genders simultaneously.  Furthermore, there is some evidence among humans that in times of war and other great stressors women give birth to more ‘bisexual and homosexual to be’ children who are then thought to become more tolerant, flexible, harmonious and generally peaceful in their adulthood than is average among heterosexuals.

Homosexuals and bisexuals also are thought to give higher than average child raising supportive and protective care to their heterosexual brother’s and sister’s children, thus, increasing the survivability of a family’s genetic line.  Consequently homosexuality and bisexuality give certain of our species a noteworthy evolutionary advantage.

Question 4. Are there other things that influence the emergence or development of different sexual preferences?

Answer: There is some evidence which would suggest that some young children may go through a critical period in which exposure to more or less equally interesting, pleasuring and loving males and females may influence the early emergence of bisexuality.  Certainly the social acceptability of various sexual preferences causes especially homosexuals not to try to suppress their emerging sexual tendencies.  In those societies which are strongly anti-homosexual much greater inner conflict and stress results, which may cause some people to be able to inactivate their natural predispositions, especially if their sex drive is not very strong.

Question 5. Are people of one sexual preference or another more likely to be mentally ill, prone to criminality or addictions, or in other ways destructive to themselves and society?

Answer: Yes is the arguable answer; and the most destructive people according to gender preference are – heterosexual.  Actually the differences are fairly negligible according to most reputable studies.  In many cultures men and women who are homosexual have had far more societal stressors than heterosexuals or bisexuals, and those stressors are causal in mental and emotional illness and other dysfunctions for many.  In societies much more accepting of people of different gender preference these problems turn out to be the same or slightly better than heterosexuals according to several authorities.

Those people who are one gender externally but another gender internally, like many transsexuals, are likely to experience even more stressors.  Unless their stress coping mechanisms are good they are more likely to experience one type of dysfunction or another.  Interestingly, highly androgynous people seem to do rather well in life in most cultures.  Hermaphroditic people who have the physiology of both genders rather equally are too rare to have had significant data gathered.

Probably not enough good, quality research has been done in this area and we have more to learn. Your sexual preference makes a difference in who you are attracted to, who you come to love and make a primary life partnership with, if you do that.  Other than that most studies seem to point to the idea that being homosexual, or bisexual or heterosexual doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to the vast majority of other varying aspects of life.

Now let’s look at the love factor.
Question 6. Does your sexual preference make a difference in how you do love?

Answer: There is some evidence suggesting that homosexual men and women give more thought to how to do love than the average heterosexual.  Furthermore, those who have sufficient emotional maturity may do love relating rather better than many heterosexuals. Both bisexual males and bisexual females actually even may be better at love.  Contrarily, there is some evidence to suggest that homosexuals who are immature may have a harder time getting beyond romantic idealization and the many problems that accompany it.

Strongly bisexual males and females seem to have a somewhat harder time than homosexuals or heterosexuals when, and if, they attempt to be monogamous.  However, if their primary mate relationship compatibly allows for some multi-person involvement they are thought to do better than average according to several researchers who study this sort of thing.  For the most part, homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals demonstrate the same range of behaviors when attempting to do a love relationship.  All do better to about the same degree when they learn more about how love is healthfully given and received.

Question 7. How do people of different sexual preferences do at family and child love?

Answer: The evidence points to homosexual couples working harder than heterosexual couples at doing family love and child love well.  Consequently they get better results in most areas measured.  Other forms of sexual preference have not been studied sufficiently but there is some evidence which suggests bisexual people do no worse and possibly a little better than the average heterosexual.

Question 8. How do people of different sexual preferences do at healthy self-love?

Answer: Because of societal condemnation, and especially judgmentalism and condemnation in religious communities homosexuals have had a terrible time developing sufficient healthy self-love.  Self-hate, self rejection, low self esteem, escapist addictions and suicide have been measured as quite high, although now with more social acceptance and more available support networks these problems are reducing.  In those cultures where different sexuality is common and accepted these problems for the most part don’t exist in larger percentages than is true of heterosexuals.  Even though bisexuals have been able to ‘hide out’ in heterosexual communities they have exhibited some of these self love problems also.

Question 9. Is there any reason to believe that people of one sexual preference or another will naturally or automatically do healthy, real love relating better or worse than people of other sexual preferences.

Answer: No!

Question 10. Do people of one sexual preference or another do spiritual love better or worse than people of other sexual preferences?

Answer: People who have more stressors, and difficulties and differences than average go looking for help and answers more than is typical.  That often includes searching into religion and spiritual matters.  Homosexuals, and bisexuals and other people with sexual differences have to cope with more stressors when they live in sexually, anti-democratic, social environments.  Therefore, it is thought a fair number of these people search for spiritual solutions and spiritual development more than the average person does.

Those who search tend to find and, therefore, grow their abilities in spirituality.  Homosexuals living in sexually anti-democratic societies especially run into lots of social and sometimes religious prejudice, rejection, hate, pseudo-love and related difficulties.  Consequently they often turn away from organized religion and toward independent spirituality.  Other than that there does not seem to be much of a spirituality difference between heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, and other sexualities.

Among people who give arduous study to these sort of things there is this conclusion – the love of life, the love of nature, the love of a deity, the love of fellow humans and all other forms of love can be just as strong and done just as well by people of one sexual preference as it is of another.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you give and receive family love and friendship love equally to people of all different sexual persuasions?

Elder Love

Synopsis: This love success lesson focuses on – plan ahead questions; love for health and spirited living; mindset issues; elder self-love; don’t retire instead encore; age segregation; with love older better sex.

Plan Ahead Questions

As you grow older what are you going to do about love?  As you grow older what are you going to do about getting loved and giving love?  All kinds of love are to be considered here.  So, as you grow older, and then even more old what do you know about elder romantic love, sexual love, family love, friendship love, spiritual love, love of life, healthy self-love and all the other possible ‘loves’?

Whatever your age, what are you doing about loving those around you who are or may soon be classified as ‘seniors’?  What do you want others to do about you and love?  The sooner you have well-informed answers for these types of questions the better you can build toward a love rich, elder years life.

Here is another important question.  Is there something inside you that has sort of been telling you that as you become ‘elder’ you have to give up on love?  That is a sort of subtle, societal, subconscious programming that gets into the heads of a lot of people as they grow older.  A variation of that programming tells us we have to give up on certain kinds of love.  Many have been taught that it is not socially proper for elders to be interested or active in certain kinds of love or love with certain people.  Especially is that true if anything sexual might be involved.  Gerontology research mostly says – WRONG!  It is not healthy to think this way or abide by this type of thinking.

Love For Health and Spirited Living

The more healthy, real love older people get and give the longer they live and the healthier they stay; also the more spirited is their life.  One recent study showed that lonely, less loved, older adults were 45% more likely to die in any given year than were seniors who felt meaningfully connected in love relationships with others.

Being older with one or more meaningful love relationships and having an active social involvement is related to biological processes that increase health, improve and keep our physiological systems functioning, decrease inflammatory difficulties and help people avoid stress-related, unhealthy hormone development with its resulting physiological damage.  That summarizes the findings to date of an extensive, on-going, major English research project being conducted in epidemiology.

In the US it has been found that well loved, meaningful relationships significantly assist elders to normalize blood pressure and avoid all the difficulties that go with it.  Furthermore, meaningful, positive love relationships reduce the development of destructive chemical compounds in the human body that seem to occur more commonly in the lonely and less loved.  Other findings show that more spirited, zestful, energetic living occurs with more loving.  The ‘loveless’ live much more dispirited and the well loved and loving live much more ‘inspirited’ and ‘inspired’.

So, the message is clear.  If – or – when you’re an elder and you want to live healthy and lively keep putting lots of loving into your life.  To do that you will probably have to examine closely what your mindset is about age and aging.

Mindset Issues

You may have grown up in a family, or a neighborhood or a town in which it was common to think certain ways about older people.  In some parts of the world this is very positive and older people are honored for their wisdom, maturity and the good things they have offer those younger than themselves.  In other areas the general attitude is disdainful, disparaging, demeaning or even denigrating toward elders.  Possibly you grew up around people who were just neutral, vague, unconcerned, disinterested and dispassionate about older folks.  Whatever the case, what you grew up around may have given you a mindset toward your own aging that is not of your own choosing.

Especially important is examining to see if you were programmed to have negative images and stereotypes about being older because that can have a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ effect on your own life as an elder.  It also can greatly affect how you treat older people and how you may block yourself from receiving their enrichments.  Your mindset can have powerful negative or positive effects on your health and lifestyle.  If your mindset is positive it can assist you to an old-age that is lively, strong, agile, spirited, healthy and well loved.  Especially important are the following mindset areas.

Elder Self-Love

Coming out of his United Presbyterian Church Etheridge greeted and in a quite chipper mood conversed with a surprisingly large number of people.  He bragged unabashedly about a painting he had completed and he unashamedly flirted with females.  To the close friend who had driven him to church that day he said he was going to walk home because it was such a beautiful day.  He declined a dinner invitation because he had a speech to prepare and because he had a ‘hot date’ to get ready for that night.  Then he zestfully set off walking home which was about half a mile away.  Etheridge was 101 years old.

There is an almost endemic problem with elders living in overly youth-oriented cultures.  It is that in such cultures elderly people begin to lose healthy, self-love and with it self esteem, self-confidence, self-respect and a sense of self-worth.  In societies that revere and do well at loving, the older one gets the prouder and more healthfully self loving one may become.  When self-love diminishes there often is a diminishment of self-care, acceptance of assistance, increased social isolation, increased sense of inadequacy and increasing feelings of not being lovable or worthy of love.  As noted, when this happens biological health is negatively affected and illness and accident proneness also tend to increase.

Those elderly people who ‘own’ a healthy self-love tend not to experience negative biological effects nearly as strongly as do others.  Their psychological state tends to continue growing, remain strong, and be what some call healthfully ‘youthful’.  So, if you grow older rejecting any and all societal negative interpretations of your aging self you probably are doing yourself a big, biological and psychological flavor.

Don’t Retire – Encore

Another big mindset issue has to do with work and more exactly retirement.  It’s a sad fact that many people after retirement rapidly deteriorate and die much earlier than they might have.  Retirement seems to trigger a subconscious process in which people’s thinking about who they are triggers their biological functioning into dysfunction.  Retirement for all too many means starting to think things like “I’m no longer productive, contributing, proficient, influential, helpful, important or significant”.  Many try a lot of recreational activities and superficial socializing, and that helps for a while, but because it’s not seen as of substantial worth its helpful effect often diminishes after a while.

What to do about this?  Start an encore career or involvement.  Those who move on to encore actions tend not to deteriorate, tend to live longer, and tend to feel really good about their lives, perhaps even better than ever.  Those who have a purpose, donate themselves to a worthy endeavor, get intrigued with new learning or working on a challenge, a major pet project, or a cause do far better than the rest.  Many do this as volunteers giving time and energy to worthy endeavors.  Some do it to bring to life and nurture their long, dormant talents in the arts.  Some join writer’s workshops and begin writing ‘their book’, articles or blogs.

Still others get into consulting, advising and teaching in an area they already know.  Another group keep their careers going and never retire because they really love what they’ve been doing for many years.  They may cut down on the amount of work time or specialize in the most fun part of whatever their career was and leave the rest alone.  All this can be seen as an aspect of healthy, self-love but it also can involve a person’s love of life.

So, what is your encore involvement going to be?  It’s never too late to start an encore involvement, and probably it’s never too early to start thinking and planning what it will be.

Age Segregation

When older people allow or cause themselves to be age segregated they may live too limited and not in ways that are good for them.  There is a teaching in the East that translates something like “to become mature and wise, associate with your elders.  To retain youthfulness, associate with youth.  But to live best, associate with people of all ages”.

Some social scientists and certain public health theoreticians suggest being segregated by age groups is anti-natural, quite artificial and probably a big societal mistake.  Learning to be comfortable around and be enriched by people of all ages is a problem for those who mostly have been age segregated most of their lives.  Those who went to the type of school that practiced having no age grouped classes, and move ahead at your own speed education are thought to do better with age integration.  Do you agree that love can flow to and from people of any age and to live that way is a highly desirable blessing?  Do you agree that to live too age segregated may seem comfortable but it actually may be too life limiting?  Are you going to be sure not to live too age segregated?

With Love – Older Sex, Better Sex

Lots of older men and women think they have to give up on sexuality, so they do.  Certainly changes often are in order as one gets older but giving up on sex is totally uncalled for and decidedly not the healthiest way to go.  You see, sex is really good for you and maybe even better for you as you get older if you go about it in an age workable way.  What do you consider to be sexually normal and desirable for people of an older age?  Are you using standards that are too much the norms of youth or even middle age?  If what you consider to be sexually normal or desirable actually is more appropriate only for youth, you’re likely not to do so well.

Men in particular who have been societally programmed to believe sex is all about ‘penis in vagina’ intercourse and about climaxing have a particularly hard time adjusting to the rather different, best sexuality possible for elders.  When males learn ‘whole body sex’ and ‘love centered sex’ they do far better. (See category: Sex and Love )  Both men and women who think their body has become too unattractive or too ‘ugly’ could best start doing their sexuality in darker places or with more sexy clothing.

Women who think they can not lubricate sufficiently don’t need to believe their sexuality or femininity is lost but rather is usually just in need of more and longer erotic actions, plus the use of lubricants.  Erotic fantasy sharing, movie watching, reading, learning to think and act in ‘no pressure to perform or succeed’ ways, and to have an ‘everything can be enjoyably and okay’ mindset, plus the mindset of ‘there’s lots to enjoy in addition to, along with, and besides intercourse and orgasm’ – all or some of these often help people learn new and better ways of how older people can go about sexuality.

There are cultures in which older people seem to have great sex lives and very few sex problems.  Both men and women who engage in the sacred sex practices of two of the Hindu religion’s major divisions, the Tantric and the Shakta, tend to keep their bodies mostly healthy and their sexually functioning quite well every year of life, no matter how long they live.  You might want to investigate those.

Here’s another aspect of elder love with sex which shocks some, angers quite a few and delights others.  I know a small group of mostly females mostly in their 20s, 30s and 40s who especially like and seek sexual experiences with considerably older men and women.  People in that group say things like “older sex partners are more total and complete, and know a lot more about being loving”, “the mature know what they’re doing and the rest are just kids – cute but awkward, clumsy, unsophisticated, ignorant, sometimes stupid and sometimes dismally arrogant.  Who needs that”!  A 23-year-old I know bragged about spending weekends with a couple in their 70s saying it was the best sexuality and the most loving experience of her life.  She also told that the next week she was traveling with a professor of philosophy in his 80s and she can’t wait to get him in bed and then to talk and talk and talk.

For older participants who are ‘mixing it up’ with younger adults, the evidence seems to show outstanding results can occur.  Older men and women having sex with people 20 or more years their junior seem to get younger physically as well as mentally. (See Does "Cougar" Love Work?)  The younger participants often get more maturity and wisdom, and often some finer life experiences, so everyone usually benefits.

Sex and love go together and sometimes bring about what is called a May/ December romance and even enduring, healthy marriages.  Historically for hundreds of years this used to be the norm.  He was anywhere from 30 to 85 and his bride was anywhere from 13 to 27.  Less of an age difference was seen as shockingly unseemly.

Nowadays, in certain circles, couples who have much of an age difference are disapproved of or even rejected.  However, the evidence shows in many relationships, of the romantic type, where healthy, real love is a major component, age similarity is not needed.  The more democratic approach of letting people choose their own love-mates, irrespective of prejudicial categories of all types, seems to be more in alignment with nature and what is healthful.

Still another elder love/sex practice not talked about in many circles is the ancient, even biblical custom of what is sometimes called partner sharing.  Martha makes love, not just has sex, with both her retired husband and his also retired widower brother.  Sometimes all three go on vacations together.  They’re thinking about sharing a house and expenses together too.  Sarah was so thankful to be taken in by her elder sister and sister’s husband after her own husband passed away from a long illness.  At first they all just cuddled into the night, but that lead to other things which have been working out quite well for all of them for quite a few years.

It is to be noted that ‘partner sharing’ among older people mostly is done very quietly and secretly.  It seems to be much more common among social liberals, often ex-hippies, than among conservatives and traditionalists.  As mentioned, partner sharing is an old custom with early biblical references.  It was for ages a primary way to take care of the problem of widows and widowers, those who had been abandoned, the disabled, the infirm and also destitute relatives.

In patriarchal cultures it was recommended as virtuous for keeping alive family bloodlines because every female taken in was expected to bear the prime males of the house at least one child if possible.  In today’s world the practice of partner sharing, especially including romantic love and sex, seems to benefit a certain number of energetic, lively elder people who have lost their spouses.  Some social scientists think this partner sharing among lively, older people is likely to slowly keep growing in popularity because with the help of the health sciences there are more and more lively elders.

To wrap up then, the importance of lots of love in your life, all types with lots of different people is vital, healthy and enriching – no matter how old you are!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Is your picture of your own life as an elder full of ‘vim and vigor’, zest, joy, sexiness, productivity and delight – or more the opposite?

Masturbation With and Without Love

Mini-Love-Lesson #228       

Synopsis: How masturbation and healthy, real love interface and can be intertwined beneficially; when masturbation is and is not a good thing; issues of differing training, genders, religions, etc.; and love relating involving masturbation are openly and refreshingly dealt with in this mini-love-lesson.

Martha’s First Orgasm

Martha was 72 when she proudly learned to masturbate and had her first, glorious orgasm.  She was one of my older, widowed, sex therapy clients who said she just had to learn to climax because it was on her bucket list and her physician cajoled her into doing something about it.  Seven sessions later she was celebrating and referring several of her golden age, female friends.

Martha had been severely religiously trained against sex as a child and had overcome most of that on her own, but she never learned how to orgasm in or out of her marriage.  Recently from her physician, she learned it was still possible and subsequently got referred to me because in my relational work, I had a subspecialty in sex therapy and a record of success.

Basically, I just did what many sex therapist do.  We talked some about healthy self-love, self-care, what is natural and masturbation as a part of that.  We also talked about romantic and sexual fantasizing, vaginal lubrication, I introduced her to vibrators and sent her home with some sexual exploration, experimenting and masturbratory homework assignments.  She was a diligent and eager student.  She readily fulfilled her assignments though some were fairly difficult for her.  After her seventh session and success, she thanked me and said she was going home to play erotic catch-up for 50 years of lost time at sex and self-love.  Healthy, real self-love and masturbation were the main pathways to Martha’s success.

The Great Therapist’s Tool That Is Masturbation

Martha illustrates one of the great, good and healthy truths about masturbation.  Because it is one of nature’s easy ways of teaching us about our own body and our natural systems, it is great for helping people with all sorts of sex and other difficulties.  Consider those with serious physical disabilities that prevent couples from having sexual intercourse.  Especially, think about wounded war veterans, serious accident victims and those with debilitating illnesses.  It often is masturbation and mutual masturbation with a spouse or love mate that provides these people a way to still have a healthy sex life and with it, a satisfying and growing life of love.

Masturbation also is a fantastic, therapeutic tool for helping a wide variety of sex problems to get better.  That is true for both individuals and couples and even the occasional throuple ( see “Throuple Love: a Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”).  Without using masturbation techniques, many sex problems might never get fixed or, if they do, it takes far longer than it needs to.  That partly is because guided masturbation techniques are basically a more efficient way to work with our own strong, healthy, natural, psychobiological sexuality systems.  Whenever we work with mother nature and not against her, things get easier.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Love and masturbation go really well together.  With healthy, real love, masturbation can be far more beneficial and positive in its effects, than without love.  Even without love, masturbation can be quite healthy, as is true of most forms of sexuality.  Two major forms, or focuses, of love relationship are involved here.  The first has to do with healthy, real, self love.  The second has to do with healthy, real, couples love.  Sometimes a healthy love of life and nature are involved and important here.

Notice, we keep emphasizing sex with healthy, real love which is so different from false love and it’s 12 identified major forms (see “The Huge Hidden Reason So Many Fail at Love”).  Also, sex with healthy, real love is very different from loveless sex.  So, as a reminder helper, here is the short version of our working definition of healthy, real love:

Healthy, real love is a powerful, vital, natural process of
highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and
taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved (see “The Definition of Love” ).

Masturbation with love, therefore, is a powerful, vital, natural process involving high valuing, a desire for, doing actions for, and taking pleasure in the erotic well-being of the loved.  The loved one can be another or oneself.  Without love, masturbation can be okay, even wonderful, but not nearly as beneficial and important as with love.

Some of the Many Benefits of Masturbation

In the health fields and the sciences which support them, masturbation has been researched.  The preponderance of resulting evidence finds masturbation to be natural, very broadly healthful and widely beneficial in a variety of ways.  Like anything humans do, occasionally it can be mildly to moderately problematic and once in a rare while, worse.  We will not list all the ways masturbation can be good for a person.  You can go online and look up the copious information available on that.  However, here is a short sample list of some of those so far discovered and the deduced benefits.

Masturbation, when compared to non-masturbation, has been found to be associated with stress reduction, improved sleep, menstrual cramp relief, stronger pelvic muscles, improved cardiovascular health, having preventative and anti-cancer effects especially for prostate cancer, improved brain health and brain functioning, the production of natural brain anti-depressant and anti-anxiety neurochemistry, reduced irritability, reduced anger, reduced sudden violence proneness, improved genital and gynecological health, improved orgasmic ability, more general happiness and longer life.

Quite a few other benefits are suspected to exist and research to find them, while limited, is continuing.  So, from the health and sciences point of view, masturbation increasingly is being seen as a great blessing.

When Masturbation Is Not a Good Thing

It is a truism that everything used is also misused and that can be said of masturbation too.  One big problem with our natural drive  to masturbate is that it can be coupled with anti-sex training and used to influence people into feeling guilty, ashamed, inadequate, fearful, embarrassed and sinful.  Each of these feelings can then be used for controlling, suppressing, and subjugating people.  These anti-sex trainings are especially powerful in manipulating people to work against and even sacrifice their own natural tendencies to know and act for their health and well-being.

A similar but different problem occurs when people have been taught masturbation is bad, sinful or sick which affects them more intimately and relationally.  That problem occurs when anti-sex conditioned people give-in to their natural masturbation desires and then feel miserable and conflicted about it.  Frequently, they hide this from their spouse and that deception may cause emotional distancing and a disruption of a couple’s love sharing.  Mistrust, loneliness and inadequacy feelings then may grow.  In couples counseling, it is not uncommon to hear both partners reveal these kinds of feelings and then confess to each other that they both secretly masturbate.  Mutual, shared masturbation may then become part of their cure.

Anti-sex trained individuals without partners who have healthy, strong sex drives frequently become emotionally conflicted, disturbed and even self-destructive when trying to fight their natural, healthful sex feelings.  Physical self punishment, self mutilation, addiction relapse and even suicide is not unknown with these cases.  More common is energy draining, ongoing, inner conflict and troubling confusion which interferes with self love development .

Physically, the most common thing that goes wrong with frequent masturbation has to do with painful rashes and rawness. Psychologically there are cases of addictive, compulsive masturbation that can result in a negative social consequences.  Masturbating in public gets people arrested, if at work it gets them fired and if it is a substitute for interpersonal connection it may contribute to interpersonal isolation.  Other underlying psychological problems usually are suspected of being involved and/or at the root of these difficulties.

Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

Dr. Ian Kerner, a psychotherapist and sex counselor, who leads an noted self-care effort after years of study and treating people with all sorts of psychological and sexual problems, drew an uncommon conclusion.  He posited that for good, healthy self-care, regular masturbation should be part of everyone’s health regimen.  He and colleagues like him, who have examined the research-based available evidence, might view regular masturbation as belonging right up there with a healthy diet, exercise, 8 hours of sleep, weight control and yearly physicals.

One of the major reasons masturbation can be good for everyone is that it causes the release of prolactin and serotonin which, in combination, can bring people into healthy, happy, resting states of excellent relaxation.  Another reason masturbation is good self-care is it can result in improved hormone health, especially for females.  Medical reasons like these are mounting, while opposing rationale is increasingly undercut by science and the professional opinions of a growing number clinical practitioners.  Increasingly, masturbation is accepted, recognized and recommended as a healthy self-care and self-love behavior.

Religion, Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

Naturally, healthy self-love involves lots of healthy self-care.  Masturbation can be a part of that healthy self-love, self-care.  However, this view is widely fought against, condemned and vilified mostly by conservative religionists in many parts of the world.  Conservative religions are generally quite negative about masturbation and often toward self-love as well.  Of all the world’s sizable, major religions only Wicca, the Hindu Tantrists and some Taoists sects can be said to have had a positive view about masturbation from early in their history.  However, today many faiths are conflicted over and/or revising their teachings about both masturbation and self-love.  One of my theolog friends commented “who would’ve ever thought that masturbation would enter into the discussion of what’s involved in the great commandment love others as you love yourself?”

If you are religiously troubled about the yeas and nays of masturbation and/or about self-love, you may wish to carefully seek out guidance from one or more clerics of your own faith, or perhaps someone in the interfaith or ecumenical movements.  I recommend that you consider choosing someone known to be loving along with being well-versed in your religious traditions.  Someone being knowledgeable in psychosexual and health science’s research also might be helpful.

Gender, Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

For women, sexual self pleasuring seems to be especially good for developing healthy self-love.  Masturbating females tend to have more self-confidence, self-esteem, and a more positive emotional outlook on their lives and on themselves, all of which provides evidence for healthy self-love.  In my practice, I counseled quite a few women who learned to sexually pleasure themselves at home.  As they did so, they overcame sex hangups quicker and more completely, improved their body image, developed more pride in being female, grew a greater sense of personal power and integrity, felt more lovable and reported becoming more loving to others.

For many but not all men, masturbation often is experienced with worries about their own sexuality, masculinity, adequacy, comparative potency, embarrassment and moral/religious conflict.  Time and maturation seems to solve these issues for most modern males.  For many of the men I treated where these difficulties were more severe, these issues were overcome by learning simple, self acceptance and self affirmation love coupled with singular or joint masturbation practices.  Some older males seem to continue to be troubled by these inner conflicts apparently because their anti-sexual upbringing was more pervasive and severe.  The expectation that aging will diminish sexuality also plays a role, but that seems to be lessening in many more progressive parts of the world.  In some places, males are learning masturbation is positive self-care and it is coming to be more linked to healthy self-love.

For bisexuals, transsexuals and other gender and lifestyle variations of all types, healthy self-love is especially needed to go up against all the opposing negative forces arrayed against them.  Self-care masturbation can be a great tension reliever, safe escape and safe sex aid in dealing with the extra pressures, threats and complications involved in being and living other than by “the standard”.

Masturbation and Couples Love

For lots of different reasons, couples and also throuples show their love for each other while engaging in co-masturbation practices.  Consider soldiers, sailors and Marines as well as others forced to stay apart from their spouses for lengthy periods.  No small number of them visually connect with distant partners on-line can keep their mutual sex life and their love life active by talking sexy and romantically while enjoyably watching each other masturbate.  For many this is a profound way of sharing their love.  Many others use phone sex the same way.

Couples living together often masturbate side-by-side because they are too exhausted from the day’s work to have intercourse.  Still others take turns lovingly bringing each other to the big O using sex toys and vibrators because intercourse just does not do it for one or both of them.  Some couples find it easier to masturbate while they share, create or read intimate fantasies to each other or watch porn.  For a host of couples in which one or both have medical conditions making intercourse unadvisable or impossible, mutually pleasuring each other via sundry masturbation practices allows them to keep having a loving sex life together.  Then there are those who masturbate separately often because of scheduling conflicts or just the structure of their lives.  Later, they lovingly and enticingly might review their separate experiences with each other so it becomes an intimate love-sharing event.  Frequently, that also then leads to more sex – together.

Of course, there are other couples who just prefer masturbating each other, or side-by-side masturbation, but who still lovingly touch each other, look at each other and talk to each other as they do so.  A good many couples lovingly mix having intercourse and masturbating.  This is especially common among couples who sexually dance or otherwise perform for each other.  After the performance they may fall into each other’s arms, have intercourse and then bask in the joining afterglow of the total experience.  For these couples, it usually is much more about the love than the sex, even though the sex can be very passionate and extremely erotic.  Many couples have found that not being so intercourse-focused or intercourse-dependent affords them a much richer and more variety-filled sex life to share together (see “Intercourse Absent Lovemaking, a Love Skill”).  Especially does sharing masturbratory behaviors, thoughts and feelings add to the ways couples can very intimately love one another.

To Learn More

The mini love lessons at this site titled “Ever Think Seriously about Real and False Love?”, link “Lasting Sex and Lasting Love” and Our E-Book Real Love or False Love Which Is Yours? may Help You and Yours.

To learn more in depth about the science and health of masturbation you may wish to check out studies published in the journals of Sex Education and Therapy; Sex and Relationship Therapy; Sex Research and Psychology; and Human Sexuality.  The archives of the magazines Psychology Today; and Prevention have some good summary articles to consult.

Something Else

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As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: How much of what we are taught to be against is just what the teachers secretly feel inadequate about handling?

Cheating and Love, in Love Relationships

Mini-Love Lesson   #221

Synopsis:  A rather fresh view of cheating and its problems; surprising origins; dynamics; multiple causes; possible outcomes and what to do about it lovingly is quickly, yet broadly and very helpfully, covered here.

Cheating In Spite Of Love

"I love them both, what am I to do?  I tried to break it off with one then with the other but it never works,  I secretly always go back and start up again.  Sooner or later, one of them will leave me or maybe even both will leave me at the same time so, I guess I'll just keep lying to the both of them until then."  "I'm sure I truly do love my spouse but I just have to have others, so I lie and cheat and hate myself for it but, for now at least, I won't stop."  "I'm very conflicted.  I don't know why I cheat, I just do but I also dearly love my spouse"  These remarks, and many like them, are commonly heard in the offices of every good therapist who works with love relationships.  The good news is they all represent situations that, with some hard work, usually are healthfully and positively resolved in those offices.

Many who really do love also cheat.  A great many more seriously consider cheating.  Others fearfully suspect cheating is occurring in their own love relationship.  Cheating especially is thought to occur eventually with people tangled in false love syndromes.  Studies show over 50% of the marriages in Western world countries experience affair problems usually involving a lot of destructive deceptions inherit to cheating.

Cheating often brings on a great deal of lying, mistrust, stress, anxiety, depression, conflict, guilt, shame, general misery, profound confusion, family harm, breakups and divorces even among couples who truly love each other.  However, most committed couples who experience a cheating problem do not break up or divorce.  They find another way and stay together.  Some even use the cheating experience to strengthen their love relationship.  Love can conquer and heal the harm cheating so often does.  Of course, there are those who get away with it but they usually do not escape the draining strain and stress that usually comes with cheating.  Then there is the fact that cheating is often very dangerous.  In all too many situations, it can get you beat up, hospitalized, possibly crippled or even killed.  Then why do so many choose to cheat?

It is true some people cheat because they really do not love their spouse or love mate, but quite frequently that is not the real problem.  You can love and still cheat on the person you love for a whole host of different reasons.  Nevertheless, most cheating harms love because it involves dishonesty.  Remember, It is almost impossible to build something real and lasting out of that which is false and contrived, even when real love exists.

The Importance of Getting Clarity

Cheating, deception, lies, manipulating interactions and all that usually go with cheating often cause a cluttered, conglomerate of confusion and inner conflict.  So, getting clear about some of the issues involved is highly useful.

Some say it really is not cheating unless you and another, or even third parties involved, have a clear, mutually understood agreement about what cheating is and what not to do.  In counseling I have heard people say "What I did wasn't cheating because I didn't love who I had sex with", "It was only a one night stand so that shouldn't count", "Yes, we stimulated each other to orgasm but we didn't have intercourse, so that wasn't cheating, was it?", "Even if you loved Joe only in your mind, that still is cheating on me", "If you so much as look at any other woman, you're being unfaithful to me", "Sex with others is okay but don't you dare fall in love with anybody else but me, because that's really cheating ".

Most people seem to think that everyone has the same understanding of cheating which is just like their own, but they don't.  Phenomenology shows us no one has exactly your understanding of everything, especially not anything having strong emotional impact.  So, it all has to get talked out and clearly agreed upon, hard is that often is.  If you are going to get clarity about cheating and everything related, it probably is going to take interactive, uncomfortable, mutual, hard, communication work.  Unspoken agreements are best thought of as disagreements in waiting.

Two Base Points of Cheating

In most love relationship, cheating is oriented around one or both of two points.  One point is love and the other is sex.  It commonly is suggested that males, especially psychologically immature and insecure males, are concerned mostly about sexual cheating.  On the other hand, females, especially more psychologically mature but insecure females, are concerned largely about cheating related to love.  Bisexuals and transsexuals are thought perhaps to be more equally affected by both.

What may be more important than gender orientation is the strength of one's sex drive and/or the strength of one's drive or need for healthy, real love.  Also, very much involved is one's sense of being secure about sexual adequacy and/or one's sense of security about being lovable and love able.

Cheatings Two Biggest Causes?

Cheating is thought to be pretty much nonexistent among a fair number of the indigenous tribes of South America.  That is because they share a belief that babies are best grown out of multiple contributions of different male’s semen.  Women seek out and bed men with different qualities so that their offspring will have those male’s various qualities.  Bedding just one male makes for too few qualities in one's child.  This belief system also expands the number of men who take father responsibility for helping the child grow up.

That example, and others like it, suggest and point to a possible, real root-cause of our problems with cheating.  That root-cause is our deeply incorporated, cultural training about sex, spouse type love and monogamy.  Had we been brought up with a mores like those indigenous peoples of South America, we might have no need for romantic dishonesty and, therefore, no need for cheating.

This also suggests that those who can get more free of our standard, cultural training about spousal love and monogamy may be able to better love their way through cheating and affair problems.  Indeed, freedom from cultural control may help explain why so many couples do not end their relationship when cheating and affair issues occur.

The second major reason for cheating being so prevalent may have to do with our biology fighting our cultural training.  There is a growing amount of evidence and analysis pointing to the conclusion that a particular biological imperative rules.  That is that 1) males are built and driven to plant their seed in multiple vaginas and, 2) females are built and driven to get the seed of different men who have various desirable qualities planted in their vaginas.  Especially, might this be a natural truth for both higher quality males and females who have more survivor qualities to offer the human gene pool for our species continuence?

Apparently, this two-part, biological imperative operates somewhat independently of our natural, psycho-biological imperative to love-bond with others.  Successful, emotionally close, pair bonding (poly and throuple bonding) examples exists around the world and throughout history which have not been emphasized, where sexual monogamy has.  Our natural state in love relationships may be much closer to that of the bonobo apes.  They are seen as more family, friendship and small-tribe love bonded than pair bonded while still being very actively, multi-mingling sexually.  Interestingly, various indigenous peoples around the globe are found to have similar behavioral norms and to be without so many problems of jealousy, possessiveness, sexual insecurity, divorce or cheating.  Lots to think about, right?

Other Reasons for Cheating

"I had to cheat because I had to find out if I was still desirable".  "Actually, I cheated because the outside love and care I got gave me the fuel I needed to keep working on my marriage",  " I think I cheated mostly because that's what successful people do when they reach the status I have attained in life",  "It helped me a lot with my self-love",  "I did it out of vengeance",  "Everything else we both were doing in life was dishonest, so being dishonest in love and sex came easily",  "All my friends were doing it and it seemed like fun",  "To be truthful, I identified with being bad and cheating is so bad",  "Others I knew were getting away with it and I was so envious",  "It's what the people in my growing up family did, so why could I be any different",  "My spouse was far too goody-goody, straightlaced and normal.  I just couldn't live that way, so I started a secret life apart",  "I tried it out of boredom and got to really liking it".

These are but a small sampling of the multitudinous reasons people discover for their cheating.  Only occasionally the reason given is that a spouse is no longer loving, or attractive, or sexual.  Sometimes the reason is to escape or find somebody better than their inadequate or abusive spouse.  While the reasons are important, far more important is figuring out what to do about it.

Other Forms of Cheating

Cheating and deception can concern and does occur regarding money, substance and behavioral addictions (like gambling), family, status, personal history, religion, politics, food, health and a good many other things.  But it is the love and sex areas where cheating is the big deal that concerns us most here.

The Poly Cure for Cheating

In the history of Europe and the Americas, every so often there appears a new attempt at one approach or another for solving the problems inherent in monogamy, or if you prefer, serial monogamy.  Polygamy, communal sex, group marriage, swinging, open marriage, free love, and more recently, poly amore alternate lifestyles are but a few of the many examples available.  With each attempt, there are people who make it work quite well and those who do not.  Common to many of the attempts are emphases on open honesty and getting okay with people having both sex and love in multiperson ways.  Common also is condemnation by the more conservative and those threatened by the new and different.

With the advent of the social sciences, what makes these different love relationship ways succeed for some and fail for others is becoming more understood.  One answer may be this.  It seems that those who learn and practice the behaviors that demonstrate love well may be able to make any form of love relationship work better, including monogamy.  Those who more poorly, or less frequently behave in the ways that convey love, more likely fail at each form of love relating, also including monogamy.  So, perhaps it is not the form but the love abilities of the people engaging in the form that makes the difference.

Cheating is hardly ever a loving action.  It is an action that risks hurting and harming another person and perhaps several others severely.  Cheating in some situations may be the healthiest alternative available as well as the least dangerous and least destructive to all concerned but those situations are rare.  There are those who attempt open honesty and who are willing to work out "I win, you win, everybody wins" type solutions.  And there are those who may be truly unable, as well as unwilling, to go for "tri-victory" outcomes.  Likewise, there are counselors and therapists who do not have what it takes to help others achieve two party, let alone three party resolutions, when cheating and affairs have been involved.  But with other nonjudgmental counselors, it can be done.

The Couple's Cure for Cheating

In my experience working with couples who have a cheating issue and supervising therapists who deal with similar issues, what helps the most is a very love-centered couple’s counseling, largely done in conjoint sessions where the couple meets together with the therapist.  Such therapists work in an unbiased way, are rather loving, practical, highly truth oriented and willing to experiment with couples outside the box toward possible solutions for improvement.  Couples’ group counseling may follow and greatly add to the strength of improvements.

The Individual’s Cure for Cheating

For individuals, I have found individual group therapy to quite often be the most advantageous and efficient treatment, though singular individual counseling may work well too.  The challenging but supportive and non-condemning ways of a good positive-focused group therapy can work wonders to help people give up a cheating way of going about relating and to risk replacing it with ways that are much more lovingly truthful.

For more help related to cheating, you may wish to consult these mini-love-lessons: “Love Affairs: Bad?, Good? and Otherwise”, “Trust Recovery and Love”, “Protecting Those You Love from Yourself”, “Forgiveness - A Much Needed Love Skill”, “Checking It Out - As a Love Skill” and link “Conclusions, Confounding and Corrupting Your Love?”.   I also heartily recommend reading Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha.  In my biased view, serious cheating issues are best dealt with with the help of a good love knowledgeable therapist, well-trained in relationship therapy, not just individual therapy.  You might be able to find one of those therapists via your national marriage and family therapy and/or counseling associations.

One more thing:  let us suggest you talk to some people about your thoughts and feelings concerning this mini-love-lesson on cheating and this site’s many other love lessons.  Think about quoting and using the following quotable love question to include in that talk.

As always –Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Quotable Love Question:  If we can love two parents, several siblings, four grandparents and other relatives, including stepparents and multiple friends all at the same time, why do we think we can not have real love for two or even more lovers simultaneously?

Compersion: A Newly Identified Emotion of Love?

Mini-Love-Lesson #214

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson introduces and discusses a newly identified emotion opposite to jealousy; it tells of couples’ experiences with it; its surprises, some of its problems, its proclaimed benefits and the growing attention being paid to it.

Learning About Love’s Many Emotions

We are starting to comprehend that love is not an emotion but does involve and manifest, not just one but many different emotions.  There are the different emotions of feeling loved, loving and lovable.  There is passion, compassion, serenity, tenderness, ebullience, protectiveness, empathy, union, kindness – and many, many others.  Increasingly, love is understood to be a powerful, natural, vital, life process more akin to great life processes like metabolism, circulation, breathing, etc. than to just feeling an emotion, even a strong emotion (see “Definition of Love Series”; “Many Good Feelings Brought on by Love”; “An Alphabet of Loves Good Feelings”).

With these understandings, we also are beginning to identify the many emotions of love and discover how they influence our health, well-being and relational life.  In the 1960s, an emotion of love was newly identified and named at the highly influential Kerista commune.  This emotion only has started to come into a broader awareness and usage, and only in some relationally-focused communities.
This newly identified emotion has always been here.  However, it seems to be rare, especially in cultures producing a lot of personal insecurity.  It is seen as an emotion which is opposite to the feeling of jealousy.  It is described as a wonderful blessing to the lives of the individuals and couples who experience it.  The name the Kerista community gave it is “compersion”.  It is pronounced sort of like the “com” in compassion, plus “Persian” as in a person from Persia.

A Couple Feeling Compersion

I first professionally encountered the emotion of compersion many years ago though I did not know its name then.  While counseling a couple, they told of having unexpected, strange but extremely wonderful, love-filled feelings for one another while sexually adventuring experimentally with another couple.  They reported no jealousy, only joy at observing their own spouse having new, different and very pleasurable sex with the other couple.  They both struggled to described the feeling they mutually experienced.  One said it was like being allowed into an incredibly rare and very beautiful, very personal, intimate sharing experience with their spouse.  The other related being awestruck by seeing how their beloved was with first one and then both of the other couple.
They both further related that they felt amazingly closer and more deeply connected to one another as a couple after all four were satiated and resting.  They also were quite relieved that there was no jealousy or other bad feeling involved, as they had worried might happen.  Through their story, I was introduced to this emotion, later recognized as compersion.

This couple previously had successfully completed some couples counseling.  This time they had returned wondering if something was wrong with them for having these new, strange but wonderful and perhaps addictive pleasures.  They had entered the adventure hoping for some “hot, naughty, go wild” excitement vowing it would be just a one time only, long held, and shared fantasy-fulfilling event.

Now, they cautiously wanted to figure out if repeating the adventure with the same or other couples could be a good thing because it had been such a big, totally unexpected, good thing in their lives so far.  They also had promised each other to be reassuring and comforting of each other if either one felt insecure, threatened, jealous or anything else negative, which so far they did not.  So, they asked the question “are we crazy and is something wrong with us for feeling the way we do, or what?”.
That session ended with them agreeing to do some research on what other couples had experienced in similar situations and find out if there was reliable information about couples doing this sort of thing.  They came to the next session excitedly telling about discovering what the Buddhists call “MUDITA”, a feeling of joy in another’s joy, coming from joy being shared and experienced with someone else.  This couple also had discovered what the polyamorists were saying about the happiness of couples sexually, romantically and even maritally being involved in other love relationships.

They also had uncovered a range of problems that sometimes go wrong in such arrangements.  Then there was the potential of dangerous, sexually transmitted diseases which this couple was beginning to take more seriously.  Those discoveries led this couple to the conclusion that, for now, they had done enough adventuring and when STD’s were more medically manageable they might revisit the issue.  Until then, they would enjoy sharing their memories and creating erotic fantasies together.
Since then, I have counseled couples, throuples (see post “Throuple Love, a Worldwide Growing Way of the Future?”), polyamores and other alternate lifestyle relators who expressed having similar experiences and feelings.  Thanks mostly to the polyamore community, the word/feeling compersion and its definition, understanding, etc. is spreading.

It now is coming into wider usage to explain these feelings of joy when observing an intimate other’s sexual, romantic, even marital, joyful experience.
I think learning about loving in all its varied ways, even when unusual or different from what one is used to, can expand one’s thinking and perception of what love encompasses; this certainly has been true for me personally and professionally.

What do we need to know about the Emotion of Compersion?
This word is understood a bit differently in several different communities.  There are those who see it as unhealthy and perverse.  In others, it is argued that compersion is a proof of real, strong and healthy love.  That is because compersion is thought to reveal a person whose love surpasses jealousy, envy, insecurity, possessiveness and the cultural training to feel those things in romantic, love relationships.  Arguably, it also shows a person able to be happy for the happiness of the person they love, being happy without fear concerning the source of a heart-mates happiness.

Among poly, throuples, swingers, trans, bi and certain religious groups, there is a debated point that goes something like this:

If you and your partner, who you deeply love, can feel joy at seeing each other take joy in having sex with others, doesn’t that give evidence of you and your partner possessing a very strong and secure love bond?  Doesn’t it also offer evidence of your healthy self-love being quite strong?

If you and your heart partner both can observe and participate in sex with another, feel joy without jealousy or feel threatened, being insecure, angry or fearful, is that not proof of having a powerful, unconditional love for one another?  Isn’t it also evidence that you and your love mate have freed yourselves from society’s training and programming effects which often result in destructive jealousy, possessiveness, suspiciousness, mistrust, distrust and fear-based ways of seeing each other?

In its broadest usage, compersion is related to feeling love-related-joy whenever you see someone you love have happiness in their experiences with another person, irrespective of whether or not those experiences are sexual, romantic or of marital type love.

Examples can help.  Here are two:

After a counseling session, I saw an adult daughter happily introduce her mother to her father’s girlfriend.  Then all three of them went to pick up the father and go to dinner together.  It had been arranged that the girlfriend was going to spend the night with the father and mother, and that the daughter would fix breakfast for all of them the next morning.  In a follow-up session, all related that they were quite happy seeing each other be happy with each other and with the whole experience.
A husband and wife both told of how happy they were to rush home and tell each other about the dates they had just gone on with romantic others.  They took joy in each other’s date experience, often getting sexual with each other in the process, but not always.  Sometimes they were just happy for the other one’s happiness.

Compersion is related to another newly identified, similar emotion called “frubble”.  Feeling frubble means feeling joy when those you love are actively expressing their love to one another.  It may or may not be about sex, romantic love or marital type love in some communities, but in others it definitely has to do with sex or some manifestation of adult to adult love.

In certain religious circles, there are those who can relate compersion to the Buddhist emotion of mudita and/or to the ancient Greek koinonia which, as an emotion, has to do with the feeling of a joyous love unity with the Deity and simultaneously with one’s own gathered and similar feeling community of faith.

More specifically and more usually, compersion has to do with a person feeling not jealous, but love-filled joy when experiencing someone they intimately love have a happy, sexual and/or love experience with a third-party.  It definitely is an “I’m happy when I see you happy because I love you” kind of emotional experience.

Some think compersion may happen more easily in those language groups who do not have a possessive case way of talking or perhaps even thinking.  It also may be easier for those growing up in cultures with multiple person marriage systems and non-monogamous emphasizing societies.

Do You Want to Feel Compersion?

Compersion can be strongly recommended over feeling the destructive anguish of jealousy or lifeless indifference.  Of course, if feeling simple uncomplicated trust can be achieved via monogamous couple love, that also can be quite desirable.  Learning to feel compersion might save you from a painful breakup, or divorce, or a lot of horrible fights, or times of fear-filled loneliness, and depression.  Compersion also might be the only way leading to success in certain love relationships.
Compersion for many, means first battling jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity and its related low self love, suspiciousness, defensive anger, compulsion to control, tendencies to start to fight or take flight, avoid risk and conform, and a host of other problematic things.  A great deal of tolerational love (see “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”) also may be necessary.

It seems a fair number of those who come to feel compersion fairly easily, often had to fight their way there by way of lots of internal struggles.  They went back and forth between compersion and jealousy, or felt both simultaneously, as they worked to keep a primary love relationship alive and growing and with those struggles they grew a deeper, more intimate love.  Others continue, and with enough healthy, real love and loving support, may likely win their struggle.  Frequently self sabotage from a jealous and insecure, internal self is the biggest problem.  Those who succeeded are reportedly very happy about it.  Others have tried and given up but hopefully they grew and learned a lot in the process.

Paul, of the New Testament, tells us love is not jealous.  He did not tell us that love, instead of jealousy, could manifest the emotion of compersion maybe because no one knew about it or had a word for it.  However, now you do know about it and even might want to do something with that love knowledge, or not.

One More Little Thing

Wouldn’t you find it interesting and enjoyable to spread some love knowledge by talking over compersion with someone, and if you do, please mention this site and its many totally free love lessons.  Thanks.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  What do you think of the idea that if you have enough healthy self-love you won’t be jealous?