How Intimacy Can Be Realized Through Conflict

Boundaries in DatingWhat 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.


Click to Tweet: 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.



  1. DeAnn says

    I am with a man that now feels that once he listens to what I have voiced what is hurting me from his lack of Intimacy with me that all is well because we sat to talk but really nothing was said on his part. Nothing changes after our talk. He is only home a couple of days a month and he shows nothing toward me just a hug when coming in and another when leaving. I feel unloved and unwanted but I refuse to beg for his Love and Attention any longer.

    • says

      DeAnn, my heart aches for you. I was in a decaying relationship for over 30 years. I wanted that marriage so bad but he didn’t and I paid a high price for sticking with it longer than I should have. I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually deficit in that relationship; he never put anything toward it. It was damaging for both of us and our 3 adult children. I would like to encourage you to take a leap of faith, step out of a dysfunctional lifestyle, find out how wonderful life really can be when you’re willing to go after what YOU want and what YOU need. You deserve to be loved and happy. You deserve to have someone display warm affection and attention to you. Be in a relationship that is functional, one that is satisfying for you and your partner. I wish you well.

      • Mindy says

        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!

  2. Kari says

    I love this! I recently ended at 2.5 yr relationship with a man because his son his out of control. I bought your book, Boundaries for Teens, back in October and now that his son threatened to kill me, he’s decided to read the book. I hope he does because this 16 y/o is out of control. He has no boundaries. He has no curfew. His dad cleans his room. There is spit dried to the sinks in this his bathroom along with multiple bottles of spit from chewing. His dad cannot and won’t tell him no. I don’t understand it. About a year ago, I told him that if he doesn’t teach him no, the cops will soon enough but it will be at the expense of another person.

    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).

    His son has never been taught to cope with disappointment. Everything is given to him along with all the freedom in the world. What ended our relationship was a text from the kid’s gf’s parents asking if she was there (at 01:30am). She was and I said she needed to go home. The dad thought it was ok for her to be there. Her parents didn’t agree so I said she had to go. The son charged me. He really would’ve killed me had his dad not held him back. I called 911 but before the cops arrived, Tom drove both kids to a friend’s house! I have since told Tom that I have no doubt Luke would kill me if given the opportunity and I have no doubt that Tom would hide my body to keep Luke from getting in trouble. Absolutely sickening. I really hope he reads your book and applies some of the common sense principles that all parents should innately know.

    • “Been There” says

      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!!

      • Out says

        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!

  3. says

    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. 🙂

  4. Wade says

    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

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