How Intimacy Can Be Realized Through Conflict

Boundaries in Dating

What is your normal reaction when conflict occurs in a new relationship? Are you comfortable addressing the issue? Or, do you stuff the issue out of fear or a desire preserve the peace? Honesty is the best policy for two important reasons: 

  1. Being honest helps resolve the hurt or the conflict.
  2. When you are honest, how the other person responds tells you whether a satisfactory relationship is possible.

If you are hurt in some way, bring it up. Don't harbor bitter feelings. Or, if there is something that the other person has done that you do not like, or goes against your values, or is wrong, it must be discussed. If you don't, then you are building a relationship based on a false sense of security and closeness. And it is possible that your feelings will be confused by hurt and fear. A lot is lost in not finding out who the other person is and where the relationship could really go, if one or both people are not facing hurt and conflict directly. In reality, a conflict-free relationship is probably a shallow relationship.

Second, you need to find out if the person you are with is capable of dealing with conflict and hurt directly. The Bible and all relationship research is very clear on this issue: people who can handle confrontation and feedback are the ones who can make relationships work. You must find out, sooner rather than later, if the person you are with is someone you can talk to. If you get serious with someone who cannot take feedback about hurt or conflict, then you are headed for a lifetime of aloneness, resentment, and perhaps even abuse.

Proverbs puts it well about a person who cannot take confrontation: "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you" (Proverbs 9:8). "A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise" (Proverbs 15:12).

Whether you're dating someone, starting a new friendship, or building a business alliance, you need to know if you are in a relationship with someone who is going to be defensive when you bring up hurt or conflict, or if you are with someone who is going to be able to listen, learn, and respond. If you do not deal with conflict early on, and the relationship gets serious, then you have bought yourself a world of trouble.

Honesty over hurt and conflict creates intimacy, and it also divides people into the wise and the foolish. But being honest is totally up to you. You cannot control what the other person does. However, you can decide what kind of person you are going to be. As a result, you will also be deciding what kind of person you are going to be with.


Taken from Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Click here to learn more about this helpful book and read a sample chapter.

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  • Wade on

    I guess I didnt catch how honesty over conflict creates intimacy? I see how you rounded out the point of foolish and wise…..but i do not see how to get the intimacy just by stating it as a given

  • Out on

    Thank you! Yes, I’m out of that situation and have no plans to return. I had known for a long time that our relationship would not progress to the next step until Luke was out of the house. But I’m not risking my safety because of poor parenting choices. Thanks!

  • Rachel on

    Boundaries for the codependent is an excellent book .if you actually do as it suggests. The patterns we have are hard to break ! Before making any decisions go to a trained counselor and learn who you are. Decide who you want to be. Listen .
    Codependent No More is an older book but it’s very helpful. :)

  • Mindy on

    I agree that there is better for you :). I was told that once you tell the person what’s hurting you -then they have to choose to change that behanvior or not, and if they don’t change it, do they really love you? Like if someone told you you were hurting them wouldn’t you want to work on that? I was told if they don’t change – I leave. I don’t need unhealthy. Now in relationships if someone continues to hurt me – even my husband I do not take it. I am very capable now of taking care of myself should I need to leave a relationship with someone who doesn’t love me. Perk…if he does change (even if is very little by little – SLOW even) then I know he does love me. If not. I don’t need him. Sometimes our men need a consequence to treating us poorly to take us seriously I think!

  • “Been There” on

    So sad all that is going on! I sure hope you have exited that home, to protect yourself….since no one else will. It is up to you to save yourself, since the Dad is incapable of making the correct choices.
    I was in a similar dangerous marriage, only my husband was a “grown up” version of Luke, and his mother had rescued him from ALL responsibility. This made Mike a very dangerous psychopath/pedophile.
    Very scary. Great news is that I got us out! You can do the same…..look at your situation with new eyes & realize what you already know….it WILL only be getting worse….much worse!! My thoughts & prayers are with you!!

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