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Showing posts with label understandings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label understandings. Show all posts

Where Does Love Rank in Your Life – Today?

Mini-Love-Lesson  # 273

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson is about exploring where love ranks in your life with a number of different, intriguing questions and the significance of those explorations being more valuable than the answers you arrive at, although they are good too.

Why Care About How You Rank Love?

Let me suggested that exploring questions about yourself and love is likely to help you get more love balanced, love satisfied and love potent even if you do not get final answers to the questions.  Once it was said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.  While that may be a bit extreme, the concept applies to love and to yourself.  One of the best ways to explore yourself and a topic is with the use of relevant questions.  So, let’s play around with some self-exploration questions concerning love and you (see “Thinking Love to Improve Love”).

How Can You Tell What’s Most Important?

Most people agree that love is important but how important?  Is it identified and measured by what you spend the most time on or apply the most energy into?  For lots of people that would mean something like work, business, making money, wealth, economic power, and that sort of thing, would be the most important thing in their life.  Another standard that we use for what is important is what makes you happy?  For some it could be making others envious, status, popularity, fame and the like.  For still others it might be sports, art, music, nature, etc.

Then there are those who value most being productive, creative, or contributory.  For many, ranking highest in importance are a heartmate, their family, their children and/or their deeply loved friends.  Doing good, justice, democracy, peace, freedom, equality, ecology, and universal well-being all rank extremely high.  Then there is love itself. In relation to all these things just mentioned where does love rank with you? (see “Thinking about Love, How Good Can Yours Get?”).

Some think that the real measure of what is important to you is what will hurt the most to lose.  Others think that it is not until you start to lose that which is most important that you, that you begin to value it much more highly.  Health or a dearly beloved one are examples.  Lately, a vast number of people the world over have been re-evaluating what actually is important. That is because they have lost, or nearly lost, someone due to the pandemic.  Whatever they were putting their life energy into has become ranked rather lower than it was before the virus.  Lots of those now see love and love relationships ranking quite a bit higher. Link “Is Love the Most Important Thing in the Universe?

Lip Service Love

In several philosophies, quite a few religions and a number of approaches to mental health, the high importance of love is stressed.  Unfortunately, no small number of those disciplines do not seem to accurately have much to say or do concerning the actual how-to’s of love.  They seem only to give it a fair amount of lip service.  I have often wondered why seminaries have so much to teach about faith and so little to teach about love.  That also is true of most of the behavioral sciences even though really good research is mounting concerning love.  I am heartened to say that Russia, somewhat surprisingly, is now the only country I know of in which some of the universities have degree programs in Loveology (see “Is There Really a New Field Call Loveology?”).

There are organizations providing courses, seminars and workshops focusing on love.  However, many are not relying on the new, well researched, wonderful and exciting knowledge about love.  They are often really about sex, or just improving bad communications or parroting the same old same old myths and hunches about love, and/or are just giving love lip service.  However, there are others that are quite good.

So, now please ask yourself this question.  Do you give the importance of love lip service and not too much else?  I suspect because you are reading this, the answer is no.  You are really delving into the subject of love by reading this and perhaps by reading other mini-love-lesson at this site.  If I am right – good for you!

Ranking the Kinds of Importance...

There are different kinds of importance.  There is immediate importance, pervasive importance, circumstantial importance and others.  Different things rise and sink in importance as life goes on.  For many people, if love is important at all, it is in the pervasive category that is taking somewhat of a backseat to the things of immediate importance.  It becomes of immediate and even extreme importance only when something goes very wrong in a love relationship. Unfortunately for many, then it is too late.

Love disasters and catastrophes are best handled like other emergencies before they arise.  Those who learn a lot about the how-to’s of doing love healthfully tend to be the ones who best avoid the love tragedies that afflict so many couples, families, parent/child relationships, friendships and the positive relationship with oneself.

For you personally, is it more important to love or be loved?  Is love something you hope to get around to later, after you handle X, Y or Z?  For you, does love have a spiritual importance?  Who or what do you love that might be important enough to give your life for?  Who or what is important enough to spend your life loving them or it?  Are you important enough to yourself to spend your life loving yourself as you love others?  Is it important to you to not only love but to love well?  For you and your life  – which kinds of importance are involved in each of those questions?

Are Some Aspects of Love More Important to You Than Others?

Which aspects of love are most important to you is another question worth considering.  Is feeling love, lovable or loving the more important aspect to you?  Is doing love or feeling love of more major importance?  In your life, what do you think is the significance of this statement, “Feeling love comes to us naturally. Doing love takes learning, practicing and then learning some more – always.”.  How about this statement, “Love is not an emotion but it can cause at least 100 different emotions.  Do you know them?”

Here is a big question.  Are you really ranking love important enough to learn how to do love well, practicing it to constantly improve and strengthen it, so as to take care of life’s big love challenges when they arrive in your life?

Well, there are a bunch of the questions you can explore and work with to understand where you are with love in your life and then, perhaps, even re-explore.  I suggest, it is the exploring that likely does you more good than finding the answers.

One More Thing

Who might you ask these questions to and talk them over with?  Doing that sort of thing can lead to amazing mutual explorations.  Discussion may add quite a bit to what you understand, can use and also enjoy talking about.  If you do that with one or more others, please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons. Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Are you having fun pondering the many puzzlements of love?

Does Giving Love, Get Love?

 Mini-Love-Lesson  # 270

Synopsis:  This mini-love-lesson answers the title question in the affirmative; gives a number of caveats and complications; explains giving love; reviews a much missed love truth; and reviews when giving love does and does not get love in return.

The Answer

The Answer to the title question is mostly yes with some highly important caveats and complications.

The good news is there are abundant examples of a loving person giving lots of love to another person and, in time, love starting to flow back to the original giver.  It happens with lovers, stepchildren, friendships, marriages, comrades, acquaintances and every other kind of relationship which has reciprocal love potential.  The more often and the more well you act to send someone love the more it increases the likelihood, but not the certainty, they will return love to you.

Caveats and Complications

Not giving love very often or very well is a good way to not get it, or not to keep getting love once you have it.  Giving indifference and/or love destructive actions more than you give healthy, real love can block the love flowing your way.  Love might be starting to grow in someone’s heart but the showing of love can get turned off for sundry, self-protective reasons.

Trying to give love on purpose just to get it, does not seem to work very well probably because the love given is not likely to be genuine, healthy, real love.  Fake love tends to fall apart after a time.  Likewise, acting from one of the false love syndromes tends to fail unless real love can replace it (see Real Love False Love).

Giving even genuine love to very unloving people tends to work poorly, at best.  Attempting to love those people who put a very low value on love or those who value other things much more highly than love (like money, status, power etc.) regrettably is very problematic.

Trying to love active substance and behavioral addicts (with addictions like gambling, sex, relational dependency, etc.) can be torturous and sometimes dangerous.  With help (Twelve-Step programs and couples & family counseling) it can be done successfully but mostly only when the addict is getting appropriate help (AA, NA, etc.) (see Recovering Love).

Usually worst of all is trying to love a psychopath or a sociopath because they can be quite good at faking love for a time.  Brain studies suggest they may be suffering from malfunctioning, neurological abnormalities making healthy, real love an impossibility.

Lacking sufficient healthy self-love can sabotage getting love from others.  Not having adequate healthy, real self-love tends to limit trusting that one is loved when it comes, as well as limit trusting that one’s ways of giving love are really wanted or are of sufficient quality (see “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”).

Love works best as a free gift.  When love is unconditionally given without regard to what can be gotten in return, love can flow most freely.  It is a bit of a paradox that doing free-gift-love is one of the most likely ways to get a lot of love in return.  It seems like it should be quite evident that people want to love loving people.  So, if you already are not a loving well person, you might want to become one.

These are but some of the caveats and complications encountered with getting love by giving love.

What Does Love Giving Love Actually Mean?

It is not enough to just feel love.  Love has to be done, sent or given for it to have any effect.  How well love is done, sent or given is of great significance to the success, or failure, of love relationships.  Put simply, love is given by doing the actions or behaviors that convey love, show love and demonstrate love (see “Getting Healthy Real Love in Your Life”).  Without love conveying actions, most of the many wonders and marvels of love go unrealized.  So do most desires for love relating.  Sadly, a lot of people under-do their actions showing love and, consequently, they miss-out on the full potential of love relating.  It is by the frequent and well-carried-out acts of love that love grows, spreads, becomes strong and is hugely enriching.

A Much Missed, Fundamental Love Truth

Feeling love is natural.  Doing love is learned.  Is it not reasonable to think that those who learn and practice the how-to’s of doing love well, tend to be the ones who get the most and best love.  There slowly is growing, research evidence suggesting the better and more skillfully one can give love, the more one is likely to be the recipient of excellent and abundant, healthy, real love.

Love sometimes is attempted as a trade, or a quid pro quo, or even as a manipulation.  Those attempts have very limited or lasting success.  The more love can be done as a well-crafted, free gift, the more powerful it is likely to be and the better the results are likely to be over time.

Long-lasting, happy love especially is dependent on love being done well.  Doing love well comes from learning to do love well and not relying on love feelings alone.  Ovid, the great Roman poet in the year 1, taught “for love to be lasting, it must be done skillfully”.  It also helps for love to be given frequently and much.

When Giving Love Does and Doesn’t, Get Love

Arguably, many, perhaps most, failures at love relating are not because people did not feel love for one another but because love was not given and done often enough and/or well enough.  Of course, another reason has to do with the various syndromes of false love.  Likewise, most great, love relating successes happen not just because the participants feel great love but because the participants learn to do love often and well, together in teamwork.  Great love relationships are a teamwork endeavor requiring learning and practice at giving and receiving in a coordinated, conjoint, cycling of love behaviors.

It is important to note that it is not really learned until it is practiced.  Performing love is much like the performance arts and sports (see “Love Is a Performance Art”).  It takes ongoing learning and practicing love-conveying actions and the knowledge of the do’s and don’ts of love.  To learn we must study, then jointly apply what’s learned, jointly practice, jointly evaluate, jointly work to improve and then study some more.  Love feelings just get you started.

One More Thing
Teaching and talking is a great help to learning.  So, who are you going to talk to about what you’ve just read?  Whoever it is, please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons on the how-to’s of love.  Thanks!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Are you making learning about love fun, if not please do.

Love’s Wrong Definition in Your Head???


Mini-Love-Lesson  #272 

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

Our Unconscious Beliefs About Love

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

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

The Most Popular Wrong Definition of Love

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

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

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

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

Dictionary Deficiencies

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

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

Feeling Love Without Doing Love

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

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

What about Feeling Attraction, Romantic and Sexual Passion?

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

Our Definition of Love

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

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

Feelings with Actions

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

Loves Functions

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

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

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

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

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

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

Forgiveness, Tolerational Love’s Sister

Mini-Love-Lesson #284

Synopsis: How growing tolerational love moves us toward forgiveness, freeing ourselves from self-sabotage and a more powerful, healthier future with others when it is done with heart and head working together.

Toleration involves putting up with Forgiveness involves letting go of. Tolerational love involves both.

A psychological understanding of forgiveness encompasses a mindful decision to reduce or free oneself from anger, vengefulness, obsessiveness and other hurtful and self-harmful, reactive states.  Other definitions of forgiveness include concepts like mercy, understanding (mentally and emotionally), clemency, absolution, forbearance and the like.  Remember, an understanding of tolerance is an ongoing willingness to endure negative feelings.  Tolerance also can be acknowledgment of people, ideas and behaviors different than our own.  Forgiveness and toleration, like sisters, can be found hanging-out together.

When we hold onto emotional pain, resentment, anger or hurt, it can harm us more than the person we felt hurt by.  When we forgive, we release the toxic negative and that helps us heal; this is an act of self-healing.  When we do not take things personally, it frees us up to be more tolerant by avoiding being trapped in a blame and defend cycle.  Forgiveness also means the noxious event does not continue to eat at us.  Forgiveness lessens pain’s grip on us.  It may occasionally resurface but usually not as strongly or as frequently if forgiveness is purposefully reactivated. 

When we ruminate on our resentment, anger, desire for revenge, hatred or other bad feelings, it can mean we are surrendering our power to change.  We also, in a sense, are giving away our power to the person or event that was the trigger of our pain.  True forgiveness helps us to regain our power, freeing us to live in the present, not the past.  We would do well to accept that we can’t change the past.  Forgiveness empowers us to have more mastery over our own emotional life in the present and the future.  That can make forgiveness an act of healthy self-love as well as love of another.

Tolerance can be a path to forgiveness which sets us free to be more understanding, empathetic and compassionate -- which are core components of tolerational love.  

8 Zen Habits To Forgiveness

    • Commit to letting go

    • Contemplate the pros and cons of letting go or holding on to the pain

    • Realize that we can make choices for how we feel and act

    • Focus on being empathetic

    • Take responsibility for our share of the difficulty

    • Focus on the present and solutions for improvement

    • Focus on being peaceful and serene

    • Focus on being compassionate

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting nor does it mean accepting, trusting, condoning or excusing maltreatment or misdeeds.  Not forgiving may be an evolutionary safety mechanism.  Being forgiving does not mean we have to suspend our cautionary suspicion which works to protect us from future ill treatment.  Not forgiving might mean we just are not ready at this time to forgive.  Forgiveness, if appropriate, can be an instrument for letting go and moving on.  Forgiveness along with tolerance often are essential for healthy, love relating.  

Have you heard the saying Betray me once, shame on you. Betray me twice, shame on me?  This speaks to the concept that sometimes there needs to be limits on repeated forgiveness.  The first infidelity may be more forgivable than the second, third or fourth.  Serial abuse can be reinforced and made worse by repeated forgiveness.  We need to be judicious about forgiveness and recognize that sometimes it may encourage unhealthy behavior.  Forgiveness, when appropriate, is a wonderful thing but when poorly applied it can backfire.  

In regard to the offender, forgiveness (if well received) may have a healing effect on them.  Forgiveness also may help them to be motivated to improve.  If they are hampered by guilt, shame or other de-powering feelings, forgiveness may help them to re-empower themselves and be more available for better relating.  

Like in a love-functional family, these sisters (tolerance and forgiveness) are conducive to harmonious, healthy and mutually supportive relating.

To help spread knowledge-based, useful information about love, please mention our site as the source of a whole lot of ways love can be done and done better. Thank you.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: When you forgive, do you feel you should give your perceived offender another chance, act nice to them or just withdraw interacting with them to protect yourself?  Or what?

Can Your Religion Help You Love Better?

Heart surrounded by various religion symbols

Mini Love Lesson #296

Synopsis: Here we are urged to take a look at what various religions have to say about love and its doing, so as to make our own doing of love more effective.  Religious teachings on love are recommended as a great source of wisdom, although with some cautionary considerations.

Most of the major religions have a lot to say about love.  What religions have had to say about love has probably helped more people than psychology, philosophy, literature or anything else.  Religious leaders of many faiths have given love a great deal of attention, contemplated love often, taught much about love and written many words concerning love.  Most of that was in an effort to help us understand love better and do love well.  Therefore, what religions have say about love is well worth considering.

Hinduism and Buddhism share The Four Great Immeasurable Ways of Love which have helped countless millions live more loving lives.  Judaism offers the foundational law of love by proclaiming love your neighbor as yourself which has been an outstanding guide for thousands of years.  In Christianity, St. Paul uses 16 terms to tell us how to do and not do love in his famous “love chapter” in his first letter to the Corinthians” which is read at more weddings than any other Bible passage in Christendom.  In Islam all 114 Sutras (chapters) of the Koran begin with a stress on Allah’s most merciful and compassionate love which followers are to emulate in their lives.  In Taoism, Lao Tzo taught the first great treasure of all treasures is love, and to courageously attack with love, and be secure in love as the strongest of defenses.  Confucius put forward that the main guiding principles to live by is that of loving others which meant to care about and secure the welfare of those we love.

In studying what religious sages and leaders proclaim about love, we can see a common thread appearing.  It is that love must be done not just felt.  For love to have any effect, love actions must be taken.  For love to work any of its wonders, loving behaviors must be accomplished.  For love relating to occur, love must be conveyed and sent repeatedly.  For love success to be the result, doing love actions skillfully and frequently is essential.  All that suggests love is to be studied behaviorally, practiced behaviorally, improved behaviorally and frequently used behaviorally.

Whatever your religion, you can focus on what it says about love and probably learn some very helpful things to do which will make your actions of love better.  If you have no particular religion, that suggests studying them all may be helpful.  You can also do that if you are rather ecumenical and open to learning from them all, or at least more than one.

Do be a bit careful.  In actual practice the followers of many religions have not abided by their own faith’s teachings about love.  In fact, they have done quite the opposite and sometimes even have become the proponents of hate, indifference and what can be called anti-love behaviors.  Hence, the potential for being led astray does exist.

Studying what religion has to say about love has aided an enormous number of people in doing love better, being better at relating with love and from love, and in forming love connected relationships, better than they would have otherwise.  Religion could be, if it hasn’t already, be the fine source for learning to successfully, broadly, deeply and wisely enrich your dealings and doings with love.

One more little thing: Why not talk over this little love lesson and its ideas with someone else?  That might help you learn a lot more from it and from them too.  If you do that, please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question: What do you think of the dictum “To get an abundance of fine love, give it in abundance and do it as skillfully as you can – often”.

Rewarding Gifts of Love

Mini-Love-Lesson # 280

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson helps make sure that a love gift is indeed a gift of love  and not something else.

Free Love Gifts:  No Strings Attached or Hidden Agendas

Free love-gifts are unencumbered by expectations.  When the gift is free of strings, both the giver and receiver are liberated to more fully enjoy the experience.  It is a string when the giver expects a return.  It is a string when the receiver feels obliged to produce a return.  To try to buy someone with a gift is neither free nor loving.  To attempt to manipulate anyone’s actions, mood or feelings by gift-giving may be more of a bribe than a real gift.  Gifts that are given to impress or for egotistical gain or to influence are more in the realm of calculated maneuvers rather than in the sphere of love.  Gifts that are given to comply with a social norm usually are not gifts of the heart.  We all may find it wise to examine our gift giving habits from time to time to be sure they are free of strings (see “Yourself As a Great Source of Love Gifts”).

If a person gives a gift to reduce their guilt, that is not a love gift; it represents a hidden agenda.  For instance, they might be trying to atone for forgetting an anniversary, for having been unkind or for an act of exclusion.  The hidden agenda is that they hope to assuage their guilt by giving a gift.  If the gift is accompanied by a sincere apology then it might be a true love gift.  Other hidden agenda gift-giving may involve quid pro quo goals, or attempts to garner favors, status, approval or merit.  If there is an ulterior motivation, it negates the spirit of love-gift giving (see “Behaviors That Give Love: The Basic Core Four”).

All too often material evidence is seen as an attempt to buy love, impress someone, or be dutiful. “You gave me things but you didn’t give of yourself” is often heard in the counseling of couples.  Toward the end of counseling, we tend to hear things like “Your gift touched my heart and proved you really know my secret self”.  To communicate love with a gift, get in touch with your love feelings for another and your intimate awareness of them, then find a gift that combines both.

What Works

What works in the giving of gifts is often surprising.  It is not the cost, it is not the size, it is not the utility.  It is the intimate and personal which distinguishes an ordinary present from a gift of love.  Love requires a personal-process-based orientation.  Many other orientations are more impersonal-product-based (the cut wood and carry water functions).  Process and product, like oil and water, do not mix well.  Why is a card or a flower often a better love gift than a shovel or can opener?  The flower or signed card is only for personal appreciation; the shovel and can opener are for work.  The more personal, the more love-filled is the gift (see “How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better”).

As always – Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: What might be a very intimate, personal gift you would like to receive and then cherish; and who might you give that same gift to?

Real vs. False Self-Love: a Key to Successful Couples Love

Synopsis: Here we explore questions of how healthy self-love helps a couple’s relationship and how false self-love harms it; what may be getting in the way of healthy self-love and the help it can give love relationships; how healthy self-love goes beyond self-esteem; and how healthy self-love is one of the keys to healthy, lasting, couple’s love.

Couples Love and Self-Love

It is likely you have heard it said, “To love another you must first love yourself” and maybe then heard something like “that is the key or a key to succeeding in couple’s love.”  It might be more accurate, although not as simple and catchy, to say “To romantically, and as an adult, succeed at couple’s love, healthy real self-love can be extraordinarily important”.  There are quite a few ways healthy self-love supports healthy, successful, couple’s love.  There also are a number of things that get in the way of developing healthy, real self-love which in turn negatively affects couple’s love and all other forms of love relationships.  One of the most important is your attitude toward self-love.

How Have You Been Taught to Think and Feel about Self-Love?

In many places it still is taught and preached that self-love is to be considered a serious sin or at least a very bad and selfish thing.  It wasn’t until the late 1800's that the super-influential psychologist, William James, put forth the idea that there were two kinds of self-love that were actually positive.  One had to do with feeling positive affection for oneself which helps with enjoying life and the other was about self protection which, of course, helps with survival.

Not much happened with that idea until Dr. Eric Fromm in the 1950's in The Art of Loving pointed out how important self-love was not only to survival but also to loving others.  This positive view of loving yourself was very controversial and much condemned in many authoritative religious and dominant philosophical circles, much as it had been since the Middle Ages.  In the highly influential theology of Calvin and the equally important philosophy of Kant, self-love was reasoned to be extremely destructive to individuals, to society and, furthermore, it was seen as spiritually corrupting.

Whether you know it or not consciously, it is likely you have been influenced by those leaders and other standards setters of commonly accepted moral thought.  If so you may be subconsciously prejudiced against self-love or at least conflicted about it.  If you are even only moderately anti-self-love consciously or subconsciously, that is likely to be harming your love relationships.  That is according to recent clinical thinking in couple’s and family therapy and research on the effects of negative thinking about yourself.

What We Do Not Mean by “Self-Love”

By self-love we do not mean being egotistic, narcissistic, hedonistic, self-indulgent, selfish, uncaring, having a me first attitude, or anything like what those words refer to.  Those words, in fact, describe characteristics of false self-love.  Healthy, real self-love actually is seen as leading away from those character traits rather than toward them.  That is what a growing body of recent psychosocial and clinical research points to.  People who become narcissistic, egotistical, etc. are clinically viewed as trying to make up for a lack of love in their life, especially self-love.  They just are going about it in a very poor way.  As one little kid in children’s therapy once put it, “There’s a hole in my self-love bucket and I can’t plug the leak – yet.).

Getting into “As” and Its Magnificent Importance

We want you to get into the word “as” and what it can really mean.  It can mean at the same time, in the same way, to the same degree and along with.  Now apply that to the great, early, Hebrew admonition which also is the second of only two commandments from the Christian’s Jesus teaching that goes “love others AS you love yourself.  This statement also is interpreted as “love your neighbor as you love yourself”; neighbor being explained as everyone you may have any effect on.

If you love another as you love yourself, you highly value both, you are concerned with, desire for, and when possible act for and take pleasure in the well-being of both.  You also enjoy both in many ways, are protective of both, have a strong sense of connection about both, you wish to nurture both, and if possible you work to heal both if sick or injured.  All this and more is encapsulated in what is meant by “AS”.

Going Beyond Self-Esteem

Some people get self-esteem and self love confused with each other.  Healthy, real self-love definitely includes but goes far beyond self-esteem, sense of self-worth, self respect, positive self regard, self appreciation, etc.  The kind of love we are talking about here involves a feeling of strong, genuine affection toward our own person, a big sense of awe about one’s self, an appreciative curiosity for discovering more about ourselves, a constructive desire for being healthy and happy and for doing the self-care involved in that, and involves the spiritual joy of being in existence.  There is pride but there also is a thankfulness for all the good fortune involved in becoming who one is.  There also is great  gratitude for being the unique work of art that we can experience ourselves to be.

This is different from the false form of love of the narcissistic egotist who looks down on others and falsely elevates himself, taking all credit for who they try to see themselves as being.  With healthy self-love there is self honoring but not looking down at others.  Instead healthy self-loving people look across to others as equals while appreciating differences seeing others also as unique works of art.  It is a self-love that motivates us to love others ever better as part of our own self-fulfillment.  From that comes a love of life, of others, of nature, of art, etc. which in turn makes us far better people with much more to offer the world and those we love.

Learning about Self-Love for Couple’s Love

There are many important reasons for learning the differences between real and false love and applying that knowledge to self-love.  One good reason is it is healthy self-love to avoid the various forms of couple’s false love that can ruin your life.  Another good reason is it also is healthy self-love to convert destructive couple’s false love to real love, or if you can not convert it to the real thing it is healthy self-love to escape toxic, couple’s false love.  These are some of the reasons Kathleen McClaren and I wrote our e-book, Real Love False Love.  It is the first and so far only book known to us which covers 12 Major Forms of destructive, false love.  Real Love False Love also offers quite a few fresh, different, very practical ways of understanding and dealing with all sorts of love issues.  It details how you can tell the real from the false along with many fresh ideas for attaining the real thing. (Real Love, False Love is now available at Amazon.com: Kindle e-books link at a new low price.  If you get it there, we would be ever so delighted if you give it a brief review and a rating – yes, that is a plug).

How Healthy Self-Love Improves Couples Love

When we love ourselves we feel good about ourselves.  Not all the time, but often.  When we feel good about ourselves we know we have something to offer and want to offer it and help those we love to feel good about themselves too.  We enjoy them better and enjoy life with them better.  When we have low self-love, we tend to be down on ourselves much more frequently and that makes us less for those we love.  To love someone well, it helps to often be up and to be able to participate with energy, with up emotions and when necessary with empathy and caring.  Low self-love leads to low and poor, quality output in just about everything, including in our love relationships.  Creativity, motivation, loving interaction, sexuality, generosity, sharing and many more, all suffer in relationships where there is low, healthy, real self-love.

How False Self Love Harms Couple’s Love

False self-love tends to bring on defensiveness, selfishness, arrogance, conceit, disdain, being overbearing, deceitfulness to hide inadequacies and to appear as having more worth and okayness than is true.  Low self-love tends to result in becoming critical as a way to appear better than others and commits the mistakes and causes the harm described in Carl Jung’s “Superiority Complex”.  Superiority complexes are in fact created to cover a secret, inferiority complex.  People in this kind of false self-love can and do play a lot of destructive, psychological games of the “I’m okay, you’re not” type.  Putdowns and passive aggressive attacks are also common here.  They sometimes tend to quite subtly and sometimes more obviously tear down more than build up the people they supposedly love.  At the very least, they neglect them and cause love malnutrition.  All this, over time, can be very destructive to the supposedly loved one and to the relationship.

Another form of low self-love results in poor self-care, needless self-sacrifice, a destructive lack of confidence, under-judging one’s own competence and generally not being able to offer the best of oneself because of self negation.  Those who have good self-love know they have quality to offer and they offer it much more freely and frequently.  Those with false self-love secretly tend to sense what they have to offer is not so great so they are much more stingy when it comes to giving of themselves.  They also sense their bucket has a leak in it so they are much more likely to be selfishly greedy working to get love rather than give it, or only giving it to get it.

To learn more about healthy self-love link to this site’s other mini-love-lessons which contain the word self-love in the title.  They can be found both in the Subject Index and the Title Index which can be found under the blue banner at the top of this site.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  How are you helping those you love, including yourself, have greater, healthy, real self-love?

Subject categories: False Love and Myths, Kinds of Love, Problems and Pain, Theories and Understandings

Keywords: self-esteem, self-confidence, couple’s love, key to success, lasting love

Love Is a Performance Art

Mini-Love-Lesson  #257

Synopsis:  Addressing love as the performance of an art; feelings guided love; is love now learnable?;  what’s to learn; and a comprehensive yet clear and simplified look at the major behaviors of love in only three categories and 12 kinds of action – all are explored here.

Loving Your Art of Love

Some say they truly and dearly love dance.  Others that it is just in them to act and that they love their life in the theater.  Still others insist that they love music and especially performing, and it is just something they feel they cannot live without doing.  Let us suppose that what they say is true.  Now there arises some questions.  Will strong feelings be enough for attaining a degree of competence?  Will it perhaps take strong feelings plus talent to do well at their art?  If someone wants to get good or better at their art, what must they do besides have strong feelings and some talent?

One answer to that question comes from research that concluded they must put in 10,000 hours of learning, practicing and performing.  If they want to be really good, maybe more.  However, if they are unusually talented maybe it will only take 7000 hours.

Why should it be any different for love?  The art of love or loving is a phrase and a title that repeatedly shows up in many of the writings of the great sages, wisdom masters and great students of love down through the ages.  So many emphasize the doing of love and not just the feelings of love.  Even many of the luminaries of love understanding who do not use the phrase "art of love" emphasize the work of doing love as being necessary to succeed at love.

At the feelings level, one’s love of an art motivates involvement in that art.  However, feelings are never enough.  Continuous learning, practicing, experimenting for improvement and a host of other doing it things must be added to be able to do one's art well.

So it is with love.  Yes, love feelings come naturally but mounting evidence shows that good love relating takes learning, practicing, perfecting and performing the actions that send and receive love.  If you want to do love well with a heart-mate, a child, a family member, a friend, with yourself, your deity or anything else, it probably will take learning, studying, practicing and performing the behaviors that "do" love.

A good number of spiritual leaders, philosophers, savants, etc. down through the ages have tried to teach that love is not love at all without the doing.  And now in addition come  results  from a sizable number of social and behavioral scientists doing studies in a wide variety of fields, along with the work of some brain scientists and a considerable number of practitioners of couples counseling, family therapy, and other forms of relational therapy – some who do some pretty good research themselves.  Those results pretty much agree that if you work at a love relationship learning, and practicing the identified successful behaviors of love, you can do it remarkably better.  Even the animal psychologists have data showing much the same thing in primates and several other species.  Higher-order animals that do not learn and practice the showing and receiving behaviors of love almost invariably fail at their relationships with others and become isolates or outcasts among their own kind.

What About Love Guided by Feelings Only?

Lots of people do their love life guided mainly only by their feelings.  They seem to have bought into the romantic myth that love is automatic, and it is all a matter of nature and feelings and perhaps fate or luck or something like that.  Therefore, for many of them, love is cognitively unknowable and unlearnable and they often think feelings will provide all the guidance needed.  Many also believe that trying to learn love will just get in the way.

The success rate of people who do love by those ideas is not encouraging.  That is especially true when compared to the record of people who live by the you have to work at it approach to love.  If you grew up in a highly, healthfully, loving family, you may have subconsciously learned quite a lot about doing love well, and have a pretty good chance of doing so.  If you were not lucky enough to grow up in such a family, purposefully learning and getting good at the "how too’s" of love gives you your best chance.  Remember, about 50% of many Western world countries’ marriages end in divorce, and it is thought that another 25% could be doing far better than they are.  There are similar results for parent-child relationships, family relationships, friendships which do somewhat better and then there is healthy self-love relating for which the results are not good either, except for those who work it (see “Is Love Ignorance The Problem?”).

Do We Know Enough About Love to Make It Learnable?

If love was so unknowable, why did St. Paul write so much about what is love and what is not love?  Why did Ovid in the year one write about how to make love lasting, and Buddha kept emphasizing living by love’s Four Immeasurable Mindsets, Aristotle taught the ways of love have to do with compassion, virtue, affection and kindness, Rumi spend his life writing poetry about love and its ways?  And in more modern times, why did such widely diverse leaders of modern thought such as Eric Fromme, Soren Kierkegaard, Harry Harlow and Thich Nhat Hahn work so hard to discover and teach the ways of doing love?

Not long ago in Russia it was decided that we finally know so much about love that the field of loveology was officially certified as a legitimate field of study in which you could get undergraduate and graduate degrees (see “Is There Really a New Field Called Loveology?”).  In Europe, the US and several South American countries, graduate-level institutes are sponsoring "love studies" in a wide array of fields ranging from anthropology to zoology.  Especially in the brain sciences there are research projects going on investigating brain processes and love.  Already a great deal has been discovered which has opened the door to many new questions and avenues for further study never before explored or, in some cases, never before even thought about.
So, the answer is yes; we know more than enough about love to make it learnable though there is yet so much more to learn.

What Must Be Learned About Love?

From a psychological point of view, there are three, big, integrated areas that are to be focused on.  Those three areas are: #1) to be able to do constructive thinking about love, #2) to be able to have healthy awareness of love’s many emotions and how they usefully inform us, and #3) to have knowledge of and practice, i.e. do, the major behaviors that accomplish love.  Number three is the one that has to do with the performance Art of love and, for our purposes here, is the most important one.  However, let us first briefly touch into the feelings or emotional aspects of love and then the thinking aspect.

Right now, can you quietly and internally search deep into your psychological heart and sense your loving feelings toward someone you have love for?  If so, what are those feelings like right now?  Are they tender, powerful, uplifting, sad, protective, nurturing, heavy, light, or what?  If they have a message, can you hear what that message is?

It is OK if nothing comes right now, it may come later.  That is a sort of exercise that uses mindfulness for tapping into the love you have for someone and the feelings that come from that love.  Love is not a feeling but it gives us feelings of many types including loving, loved and lovable, along with a great many others.  It shows how the love within you might be usefully available and purposefully accessed.

Let's take a quick glance at thinking about love.  Try focusing on the thought that love can be done by you as a wonderful performance art that you are going to greatly enjoy learning about and participating in.  Think how developing that mindset might lead you into some greatly enriching experiences.

Now, for the performance part – the most important part for our purposes here and the part I suggest you focus  most on.  It is the actions or behaviors of love that accomplish the most.  It is what you do or perform that fulfills the five major functions of love (see “A Functional Definition of Love” ). Like any performance art, it is the actual performing of the behaviors of the art that are the art.
To help you with that, here is my favorite simplified outline of the major behaviors of love to learn about, and start practicing and working to improve.


Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love can be understood to be accomplished at three levels, each of which have four major components.  They are as follows:

I.   Basic Core Love Actions

1. Tactile Love
Touch love is the first and most basic way of giving and receiving love.  One can endlessly learn new and better ways to touch with love.

2. Expressional Love 
Facial expressions, gestures, posture changes, voice modulations, proximity shifts, etc. can, and do, send love messages often far better and more powerfully than words.  They also have infinite variations.

3. Verbal Love
Artfully delivered words of love sometimes can be the most meaningful and most magnificent way to deliver love’s most impactful communications.  Work with words of love for depth, height and breadth of love expression and more lasting effect.

4. Gifting Love
One can give objects, experiences and favors significantly showing love.  All three can be of enormous importance and made special by personal variation and design.

II. Higher Functioning Love Actions

5. Affirmational Love

Love behaviors and words that affirm the high value and importance of the loved.  These often are essential for building up, strengthening and actively appreciating the loved.  Thus, they often bringing out the best in a loved one.

6. Self-disclosure Love
Often essential for deep core connecting, growing closeness and creating intimacy.  This involves the self revealing of personal thoughts, feelings (both physical and emotional), behaviors history, hopes, fears, failures and successes and everything personal and private.

7. Tolerational Love
Tolerating the less pleasant and sometimes harder to accept aspects of the loved but not to the point of harm, or self-destruction, or enabling a loved one's self harm or self-destruction.

8. Receptional Love
Acting to lovingly, appreciatively and positively receive acts and words showing love and positiveness toward you.  This is essential for love cycling in ongoing relationships, growing love mutually and a sense of bonded connectedness.

III. Cardinal Love Actions

9. Connecting Love
Actions that cause and promote heartfelt connection feelings with the loved, including bonding behaviors and experiences, feelings of having ongoing unity, deep attachment, strong allegiance and loyalty with one or more networked loved ones.

10. Nurturing Love
An interacting group of behaviors that act to promote, aid, assist, motivate and reward (A) the healthful growth, positive development and constructive advancement, (B) the maintenance and sustaining of ongoing well-being, and when needed the repair, restoration and healing of the loved.

11. Protective Love
Any and all behaviors that aim to safeguard, defendant or, if needed, rescue the loved from harm, reduced well-being, useless hurt and destructive occurrences while also aiming to not be overprotective and, thus, block growth for improvement and strengthening.

12. Metaphysical Love
All healthful actions that are done to spiritually, meditatively and/or metaphysically promote and support the well-being of the loved.

One More Thing:  There's a lot here you might want to enjoy talking over with others to help your own thoughts and understandings go further.  If you do that, please be so kind as to mention this site and our many mini-love-lessons.

As always – Go and Grow with Love.

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If you are not happily hungry to learn about love a lot, are you maybe condemned to only learn from your love mistakes – or not at all?

Love and Your Body

Mini-Love-Lesson  #256

Synopsis: How experiencing healthy, real love makes your body healthy and how giving and getting love is both healthy for you and those you are doing love with as well as bystanders; how not having love connections is unhealthy; and how living in healthful, real, love networks works best for all concerned is insightfully delved into here.

Body Thriving Love

Love is a great component for a thriving body!  Mounting evidence points to the fact that we mammals are biologically hardwired to seek, make and maintain love connections with others.  One way we benefit from that has to do with our physical health.  Our safety, survival and better health functioning depend on connecting and especially love connecting with others.

Any and all emotional connections can help but it is love connecting that we thrive on.  When we are in good and healthy, getting and giving love relationships, all our body systems tend to work better.  Our circulation, our blood pressure, our digestion, our immunity mechanisms, our metabolism – everything works better once we are established in ongoing, stable, healthy, real, love relationships.  link Love & Survival by Dean Ornish.

Lacking Love Connections

When we do not feel love-connected to others our sense of safety tends to recede and then our physical and psychological stress mounts.  That means parts of our non-conscious brain (amygdala, posterior cingulate, etc.) start sensing a threat.  That triggers the release of stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) into our bodies.  At first this can, in the short term, help us fight or flee a threat.  However, in the long term, feeling threatened continuously and/or repeatedly can be very damaging to us.  Prolonged stress, tension and threat can cause strokes and heart attacks, hike cancer susceptibility and bring on a host of other serious, physical health problems (see “Connection Matching – A Love Skill” and “Co-Connecting – An Essential Love Team Skill”).

Psycho-neurologically, the dynamics of stress are causally linked to increasing chemical imbalances in the brain, micro brain structure damage causing cognition and emotion control problems, and other serious brain system malfunctions.  These, in turn, are associated with the exacerbation or the cause of a great many different mental, emotional and behavioral problems including addictions, ultra- sensitivity to emotional hurts, hyper-reaction and over-responsiveness to anything perceived and interpreted as personally negative.  All that can, and often does, lead to much interaction failure and relational dysfunction in couples, families, friendships, etc.

A new love connection or a prior love re-connection can greatly help reverse all of the above difficulties.  Increases in healthy self-love with a sense of being better internally-self-connected can often do much the same (see “Wellness: Its Necessity, Healthy Real Love”  and “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”).

On the Positive Side

Physically, when you receive well the behaviors which trigger your brain into feeling well loved, your brain begins to reduce its production of destructive, stress hormones.  That, in turn, triggers increases in your immunity functioning and disease resistance.  It also helps with good digestion, sleep, reduces addictions susceptibility and relapse proneness, plus it increases your ability to heal damaged tissue.  Healthy, real love in your life means you will age slower and probably live longer.

Being healthfully and well loved as well as being loving creates and aids healthfulness in many ways.  Essential to this process is being good at receiving love and going after the love you need and want in successful ways.  With good and sufficient reception of the behaviors that trigger the brain into feeling well loved, every body process operates better.  Receiving love well  also usually leads to more happy, harmonious and cooperative love relating.  Body-wise this means better disease resistance, regenerative tissue growth, blood pleasure balance, illness recovery, good digestive functioning, general resilience, more energy and greater likelihood of longevity (see “How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better”).

Love Relationships – A Two-Way Thing

Living in two-way, giving and getting love filled and love cycling relationships is physically, mentally and emotionally beneficial for, not only both participants, but also for the people you jointly effect like children and other family members and dear friends.  Such loving relationships benefit everybody.  They produce I win, You win, Everybody wins relating patterns and networks.

Love connection loss is unhealthfully stressful for all mammals, and birds too, and probably for other species as well.  Likewise, insufficient and erratic love also can produce stress and resulting health problems.  When we are infants, a lack of receiving the behaviors of love can physically kill us via failure to thrive syndromes.  That even is true for infants who otherwise are very well taken care of minus the behaviors of love.  When we are adults, love loss and loveless situations can make us more susceptible to disease, addictions, stress illnesses and suicidal depression.  When we are elderly, active healthy love relating of every kind can help us live longer, healthier and happier than we otherwise would.

Living in isolation from love relating, even though surrounded by people, can be quite bad for you.  Some people live lives of giving love but not getting much love, and some try it the other way too.  Such people are not living in love relating networks and they benefit from love but not nearly as well as those in love networks that are really filled with both giving and getting love connections.  Our bodies react very positively to living in a love relating network such as a healthfully loving family, group of close friends, comrade networks, etc.

Giving and Getting Love Both Count

A good number of studies show giving love has many of the same positive effects as getting love.  Even altruistic love actions toward recipients who have no chance of returning positive behaviors is quite healthful.  Love of pets (especially mammals) as well as healthy self-love actions also produce lots of healthful body reactions.  Link “Self-love and Its Five Healthy Functions

Having more than one place, or person, to give your love to also is a very helpful thing to do.  Giving love to more than one person, as well as receiving love from more than just one, protects against the damages of losing a one and only love source.  Every love relationship you have can be an enrichment, not only to you but also to all the other love relationships you have.  Consider the concept that love grows on love and love creates more love.  Then there is the idea that love, like ideas, tends to increase the more you give it away.

Having a love-related-purpose in life, or a love-related-cause to pour yourself into, also can be quite useful to one’s own health and well-being, as well as to others.  It is important that you choose carefully.  Some people pour themselves into achievements that make no particular contribution.  Then later they become quite disappointed and depressed because they realize those efforts seem meaningless.

Giving love to pets and receiving love from them (especially it seems with dogs, but also with other mammals and sometimes also with birds) has helped many people through very difficult times (see “Pet Love”).

Giving and getting love from yourself seems a bit strange and baffling to many at first.  However, those who get good at it report very good results.  Remember, there are two sides to the ancient adage “Love others AS you love yourself”  and so, I recommend being quite active about both. 

One More Thing

Will you, and perhaps others, benefit from you talking about all you have just read with other people?  You might want to experiment with that idea.  If so, please mention this site and all of our many mini-love-lessons and help spread some love knowledge into our love-needy world.   Thanks.   

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

Love Success Question: Your body is made of many miracles so, with healthy self-love do you love, honor and respect it?

Love Never Fails or Ends

Mini-Love-Lesson  #253 

Note: This is the 16th and last in our series of What Is Love: A New Testament Reply based on Paul’s description of love and informed by the relational and behavioral sciences.

Synopsis: For your own personal use, explore the proclamations that love never fails or ends; search into the theology and psychology of these precepts; look at mysterious lifelong love; delve into three of the major ways to comprehend Paul’s teachings; contemplate the wide-ranging coverage of the English translations; review a bit of what science says and consider gambling on never and forever.

It’s Over, Or Is It?

Love may never die but love relationships do cease even if love is still felt.  Many a divorced person feels a love in their heart for an ex and at the same time they feel a strong, real love for a new spouse.  “I love my ex so much better now that I know I don’t have to live there anymore” is an idea I have often heard expressed in post-divorce counseling (see “Exes and Love”).

Love for a child, parent, sibling or other family member or even a deep friend, if estranged or on hold with little or no chance of reactivation, still can persist.  For many, once they strongly love someone that love is an ongoing state of being lasting a lifetime.  For millions who have lost those dear to their heart due to death, this ongoing love remains very true, real and active.  It has always been amazing to me in counseling with help when a client talks to a dead loved one and then listens for a reply, amazing things often happen.  Several counseling techniques assist this process but often they are not needed.  Replies almost invariably come, whether silently heard or spoken by the client, and most commonly are extremely heartfelt and beneficial to the one grieving.

Intellectually we all know to think that the replies come from the client’s own mind but at the heart level it still works.  Clients usually leave those sessions feeling a love connection event has occurred, nurtured them and they are better for it.  Perhaps it is because they were able to engage in the action of sending their love but then too they seem to have also received some love in the process.

Then there is the hard to explain, getting a reply containing information that seemingly could not have been known prior to the session.  That is rare but it does occur.  I can only conclude we see through a glass darkly and, therefore, who really knows what realms love can reach into?

Some think that once love is born and grows, it gets to a certain point of strength where thereafter it is always able to be tapped into and is a lifelong part of us.  In those cases, love seems to live on, deep in our subconscious. 

Think of the many loving friends who have not seen each other, maybe even for years, and they pick up right where they left off years ago.  Think of long lost relatives who do the same thing upon reuniting.  Many a parent and child who have been, for one reason or another, sometimes separated for decades rejoining together and manifesting love feelings that seem both old and fresh at the same time.  Then there are the exes who broke off relating years ago, then grew and came back together more successfully than before.  They rejoin with a love that they sometimes say it both has restarted and it was there all along.

There appears to be much evidence pointing to the truth that, as far as we can tell, real love is indeed often long lasting love.  As related by Paul, love may not fail or fade away but indeed be, just possibly, everlasting (see “A Dozen Kinds of Love to Have in Your Life”).

Contemplating and Comprehending Paul On Love

This is the last in our series on Paul’s precepts on what love is and is not and what love does and does not do.  This last precept is thought to be a sort of summation teaching aimed at having a final, potent impact with a compelling action-oriented effect.  For a great many readers it seems to succeed at that.

There are, however, some interpretation ponderments.  Translators seem to see two interrelated but definitely different ways of understanding this teaching. Then to make matters more complicated, other scholarly research appears to point to a third still interrelated yet different discernment.

Paul’s words in ancient biblical Greek are “he agape oudepote ekpiptei”.  Eighteen of the 30+ English translation efforts we reviewed decipher this as “love never fails” but eight others as “love never ends” or something very similar.  Then other scholarship now understands this to perhaps mean “love never weakens” (see “Spirituality and Love Great and Grand”).

So which is it “love never fails” or “love never ends” or “love never weakens”?  It is quite possible Paul’s words mean all three.  Just as is true in English, biblical Greek words can have more than one meaning.  Sometimes variations of meaning are simultaneously meant to be communicated.  Especially is this true in the communications of the more widely educated and intelligent of ancient Greece.  Paul was both according to what we know about him.

From a psychological perspective, it can be quite rewarding to include all three in our study and thoughtful usage of Paul’s summation precept on love.  Even so, there are some more to be intrigued about, contemplated and understood.

The English Possibilities

“Love never fails” in English has a wide variety of meanings.  It can mean love never succumbs, loses, goes down to defeat, and is ever victorious.  It also can suggest, love never declines, does not perish, waste away, flag, deteriorate, falter or flounder.  Then again, it can be understood as love never collapses, crumbles, is found defective, comes to nothing or is inconsequential.  Some put it as real, strong and healthy love always wins out in the end.

“Love has no end and/or love is eternal” can be seen as love always was and always will be, love once begun will last forever, love was and/or is self originating, love is ceaseless, perpetual, timeless, infinitely ongoing and once love is given birth love never dies.

“Love never weakens”, i.e. love never diminishes, depletes, declines, decays, degrades, fades or becomes de-powered is a third rendition being considered for interpretive value.

All of the above can be seen as having possible truth.  Arguably, the deity is seen theologically as eternal and omnipotent, plus the nature of deity is understood to be love and, therefore, love also is eternal and of an undiminishing strength.  In more than one world religion, these concepts have been posited or are articles of faith (see “7 Other Definitions of Real Love Worth Considering” which includes A Metaphysical Definition of Love).

What Does Science Say?

Science and especially the psychological sciences can not really adequately deal with much in the world of theology. As one researcher put it “We just can’t seem to fit eternity and all the other totality concepts into our labs so, alas, we best treat them as outside our jurisdictions”.  That, of course, has not stopped any number of scientists from proclaiming they know the real truths of existence.

The history of science is replete with examples of arrogant proclamations which turned out to be mistaken.  It seems all scientific truths are subject to at least greater elaboration later.  It would seem that we do well to remember that we see through a glass darkly but with science we probably do see far better and far more than ever before.

From a social sciences point of view, the fact is love relationships do end even if love itself does not. There are those that argue the evidence says love is like everything else – it is something that is born, grows, diminishes and then dies.  Arguably that might refer to false love relationships or relationships that did not grow to the point of strength that they could last a lifetime or beyond.

Now on a personal note, let me say that I, as a clinician, have seen and experienced things my scientific self can not come close to adequately explaining.  Especially has this been true in matters involving love.  I must say that from my astonished and awed perspective it appears the heart often sees far better and further than the mind.

Gambling On Love Eternally Today

A Theolog I knew and respected once wrote me a report on Paul’s precepts which ended with his collective take on Paul’s teachings.  It was, “In all circumstances and human relationships, when in doubt: love; it is never wrong to love.”  I agree.

I suggest gambling on love is likely, almost always, to be your best bet.  Believing or at least hoping and suspecting that love lasts forever and that love relationships may indeed go on beyond the grave is frequently a very life affirming and helpful thing to do.

Here is a suggestion to contemplate.  Work at doing ever better love everyday you love someone.  Adopt the perspective that it is a joy and privilege to do that work.  Therefore, why not hope to do it forever if you can.  That, I suggest is an attitudinal gamble well worth taking.

Likewise, there is a usefulness to knowing that at any moment a love relationship can be brought to an abrupt, earthly end.  So, do not waste your time, use it to do more love relating actions soon, often and better.

One more little thing.  I bet some good things will happen if you get to talk this mini-love-lesson over with some loving others.  If you do, then please mention this site and help spread love knowledge around a bit.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable question: In the high valley of the heart summer love is easy, but what about in the deep snows of winter?

Love Endures All Things

Mini-Love-Lesson  #252

Note: this is the 15th in our series “What Is Love: a New Testament Reply based on Paul’s description of love and informed by the relational and behavioral sciences”.

Synopsis: The amazing, enduring nature of real love along with its big difference from false love; the many and diverse ways of enduring love; the intriguing things Paul may have meant, with a special emphasis on those who endure; the many attacks on love done differently.

Millions of Endurance Miracles

Side-by-side he was with her and she with him as they got past the disfiguring accident, then through the years of serious surgeries and rehab, the loss of a child, a medical insurance-caused bankruptcy and the rejection that came from both their families when they changed religions.  They endured it all together and a lot more.  Why?  How?  The answer is real love can empower us to miraculously “endure all things”.  Are they happy today?  Yes, immensely!

Did they sometimes think about splitting up and looking for an easier way to go?  Yes, of course, lots of times.  Did they tire of supporting each other and caring for one another when one was down and the other the caretaker?  Yes certainly, especially when things seemed hopeless.  Were they tempted to seek care-free other love.  Yes, in fact when things seemed at their worst both sought and found comfort and support in the arms of others and then they endured recovering from that also.  I am pleased to say I had a little to do with that part.  For me, the best part was when I was invited to attend their 40th wedding anniversary celebration years after the agonies they had endured were over.

Here is the real miracle.  Though it has some unusual features, their story is not as uncommon or as rare as you might at first think.  Thousands upon thousands of examples exist showing people, with love’s empowerment, enduring horrendous difficulties of all kinds.  Back to the very dawn of written history, there are examples of love relationships enduring hardships, catastrophes, losses, crippling diseases and every sort of tragedy.  Time and again, comrades have risked death to save their deeply loved brothers in service, countless parents have toiled for years to give their loved offspring a better life than their own.  Lovers have dashed into harms way to save their heartmates, lifelong friends have stayed side-by-side facing nearly endless trials and tribulations.  On and on go the stories of love empowered enduring all things (see our book Recovering Love).

False Love Endures Little

When she was hospitalized for three days, her lover did not visit although he did call each day.  Everyone else who loved her did visit.  He said it was because his amateur sports team had practice during visiting hours, and besides, hospitals made him nervous.  He later complained that he could not understand why she broke up with him over this and that it was most unreasonable and unfair.  After all, she was in safe hands and well cared for.  Months after the breakup she learned he had spent the second night she was in the hospital with another woman.  She said, “I’m so glad, relieved in fact, that he proved his love was fake before I found out about his cheating on me.  That would’ve hurt but now it’s just validation.  I know I’m worth a lot more than his stupid sports club”.

One of the best differentiating signs of real versus false love has to do with the answer to the 3D question.  “Will someone professing love willingly endure ongoing, discomfort, difficulty and danger for the well-being of the loved? (See “Why You Need To Know More About Real Love” and our book Real Love False Love.)  Remember: real love causes us to want for and, if possible, act for the well-being of the loved (see “The Definition of Love” and “A Dozen Things Love is and A Dozen Things Love is Not”).

False forms of love tend to be about the paramount desires of the self, not about the loved.  They may be well masked and hard to detect but they tend to surface in time.  Good, healthy love of another does not preclude actions of good, healthy self-love.  It just is that love of another is equal or stronger and shows up especially when a loved one faces ongoing discomfort, difficulties and dangers.  Real love often, but not always, can be genuinely happy to be of service and assistance when facing difficulties.  Acts that come from duty, obligation, guilt, etc. – not so much (see Real Love False Love).

There are some forms of false love that seem to show signs of love’s enduring quality.  One of these is the form called Fatal Attraction Syndrome.  Its enduring actions come not from love but from an obsessive and compulsive mental health problem.  In its moderately serious form, it results in annoying, continuous harassment and stalking behavior.  In its most serious form – death by murder and/or suicide can result (see “Fatal Attraction Syndrome”).
Paranoid syndromes may also seem to have enduring signs of love in a seemingly protective way.  The protectiveness usually is a mask for possessiveness  and insecurity.  This is birthed  from fear not love.  Addiction syndromes can manifest pseudo-love endurance behaviors so long as the supposed loved one continues to be a facilitator of the addiction.

What Does It Mean to Endure

Love empowers us to keep going in adversity, continue in spite of difficulty, remain, last, tolerate, withstand and, when needed, to suffer patiently.  It also can mean to bravely resist, courageously carry on, stoically live through and with resignation weather the storm.  It is love’s enduring quality that gives,  assists and defends love’s longevity.  Enduring love means not only do we come to the aid of our loved ones but we stay there, not withdrawing or retreating in the face of adversity or adversaries.

Is This What Paul Meant?

At first glance, it can seem like this precept in Paul’s discourse on love is just another way to say love bears all things (see “Love Bears All Things”).  There are, however, some important differences.  I am told those may be easier to understand in the ancient biblical Greek than in English.  Love endures all things in the ancient biblical Greek is “agape panta hupomenei”.  Remember, just like in English, Greek words can have more than one meaning.

Some scholars suspect that in Paul’s day it perhaps was understood that these words emphasized not fleeing or removing oneself from the fray, abandoning the field of conflict, or to stand one’s ground under attack.  The word agape is thought to carry with it the connotation of compassionate love and continuously active love in the needed service of the loved.  Interestingly, some think Paul’s teaching also implies willingly enduring or putting up with awkward circumstances caused by unloving fellow church members, or something like that.  Love endures all things is further thought to especially imply to endure persecution, afflictions and troubles caused by those acting against the Christian movement.

Of the 30 biblical translations reviewed, 17 translated Paul’s words as “love endures all things” which is the most common interpretation.  It is, therefore, the one we use here.

Other interpretations, both in Bibles and suggested for possible future consideration, include “love endures”, “ love is always no matter what”, ”love endures through every circumstance”, “love - she is full of patient endurance”, “love never gives up”, “love always remains strong”, “love always perseveres”, “love never looks back”, “love needs never retreat”, “love will never remove itself from adversity”, “love does not flee from its opposition”, “love makes us stand our ground”, “love prevails over the unloving”, “love will endure the persecution and afflictions of all who move against it”, “love gives us endurance over all troubles”, “love has the power to endure all difficulties” and “love is forever”.  I suggest all of those may be used to broaden our understanding of what Paul’s words may cover.  The all things part is thought to mean, by implication, all things difficult.

Enduring the Attack on Love

A lot of the world has been intolerant and attacking of love when it comes in forms different than that of its attackers. In my career as a family and relational therapist I frequently was called upon to assist individuals, couples ,families, alternate lifestylers and others in their fight against those who did not want them to do love the way they were doing it. In counseling sessions, often in court, once in a while in public forums and in politics I and others like me have battled for loves diversity and against anti-love bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, bias, and ignorance.

One of the most common difficulties concerning tens of thousands of couples, parents, families and others who are challenged to endure is the ongoing intolerance for who, and how, others do their love.  Issues of bi-racial love, bi-sexual love (see “Gender Diversity Love”), gay love, throuple love (see “Throuple Love, A Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”), elder love (see “Elder Love”), age different love (see “Should Age Make A Difference – In Love” and “Age Differences and Romantic Love”), different religions love, parental love, family love, etc. –  all have their active and often well-meaning but sometimes vicious enemies.

Those who choose a path of love different from the accepted can face family banishment, legal battles over custody of children, public shaming, forced isolation from loved ones and their home communities, efforts to break up their marriages, costly legal entanglements, episodes of hate, rejection and condemnation and even being honor killed –  all because of who and how they do their love relationships – differently.

Enduring family rejection that lasts for years unfortunately is very common in the lives of those who do love out of the norm.  It is so wonderful when this is finally overcome and reconciliation occurs which very often it does with the help of family counseling and/or coaching.  When loving re-connection does not happen, escape to a new environment full of new and more loving people frequently is the best solution.  Given the chance, love will find a way.

One more thing: Do you have friends who like to discuss things religious, spiritual, denominational, theological or ecumenical?  If so, you might want to talk over this mini-love-lesson and this series with them.  If you do, please do mention this site. Thank you!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question:  Is your way of doing religion leading you to the ways of more love?  If not, where is it leading you to?