Ten essential principles for true intimacy.

Ten essential principles for true intimacy. February 8, 2015

I just finished reading the book “Scary Close: Dropping the act and finding true intimacy” by: Donald Miller.

As the Founder of StrongerMarriages.org and a relationship blogger, I read a lot of relationship books, and I can honestly say Scary Close is one of the best I’ve ever read. This book will pull you in with disarming humor, gut-level honesty, inspiring true stories and profound insights into what makes a relationship work. I’d recommend this book to anyone in any stage of life.

I hesitate to share “keys to intimacy,” because this book isn’t a book of steps or keys. Relationships are always more complex than following an assembly line, but here are a few of the countless powerful principles I discovered in the book (paraphrased in my own words).

These timeless principles can help you become a better spouse, a better friend, a better parent, and a better person.

(In no particular order):

1. Secrecy is an enemy of intimacy.

One of the main themes of this book, told primarily through the true story of Don and Betsy Miller’s relationship, is how intimacy is built on honesty. The strength of a relationship will never be greater than the level of transparency and honesty we give to the relationship.

2. Don’t try to impress people; just love them.

Social media lets us live in a world where we can just show off our “highlight reels,” but intimacy requires letting people behind the scenes to see our struggles and imperfections. Don’t focus on building your brand or your reputation; focus on building healthy relationships instead.

3. Be yourself.

It can be tempting to play a role instead of being authentic, but we have to take off our masks and let down our guard if we want to experience real intimacy. Otherwise, people won’t’ really love you, because they’ll never truly know you. They’ll only love a character you play.

4. Never prioritize pursuits or possessions over people.

When you get to the end of your life, your relationships (not your trophies or money) will be what matters to you. Don’t wait until then to make them a priority. Any “success” you achieve at the expense of your loved ones isn’t real success!

5. You can’t change people.

Bring out the best in people, but don’t try to change them. Just love them. Love is what changes us.


6. Healthy relationships require healthy people.

If someone is a manipulator or prone to co-dependency, protect yourself by creating distance until they develop healthier relationship habits. The book’s chapter on “5 types of manipulators” is one of the most insightful explanations I’ve seen on the various types of dysfunctional personalities.

7. Swallow your pride.

Pride is the soil where most relational dysfunction takes root. Be humble enough to admit fault, seek forgiveness and give up the need to control or manipulate. You can’t be “in charge” and “in love” at the same time.

8. Forgiveness can be given, but trust must be earned.

There’s a huge difference between forgiveness and trust. Forgiveness is a free gift (which is “Grace”), but trust must be earned back slowly over time (which is “Wisdom”). If trust has been broken, work hard to rebuild it, because it’s the foundation for intimacy.

9. Don’t expect another person to “complete you.”

It’s a romantic notion to think someone else could be the other half of our soul, but it’s actually a warped view of relationships which cultivates co-dependency. Love each other, support each other, serve each other, and bring out the best in each other, but don’t try to “complete” each other.

10. Love is a commitment, not a fickle feeling.

Love, by its very nature, is a commitment. When we base our relationships on our commitments, our feelings usually have a way of catching up. Never treat people as if they’re disposable. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on the people you love.

For more on building healthy relationships, read this book for yourself! You (and your loved ones) will be glad you did!

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