The 7 Levels of Intimacy Book Discussion

In The 7 Levels of Intimacy, author Matthew Kelly defines intimacy as the mutual self-revelation that allows us to know and be known. He suggests that intimacy is the mutual sharing of the journey to fulfill our life purpose –  in other words, to become the-best-version-of-ourselves.  Kelly then defines the seven levels:

1. Cliches

The first level of intimacy is impersonal.

  • The right amount of small talk to make people feel comfortable
  • Useful for day-to-day transactions and for making initial connections

2. Facts

Saying something about yourself

  • Lower level impersonal facts, e.g., current events, the weather, sports.
  • Higher level impersonal facts, a discussion of the life of Abraham Lincoln or what causes a tsunami 
  • Personal facts, i.e., facts about you (This is the bridge into opinions)

3. Opinions

Revealing more about yourself and offering the gift of acceptance to others 

  • Surfacing techniques (to defuse the discomfort of controversy and that prevent intimacy)
  • Knowing how, when, and why to agree and disagree (gracefully) – how to agree and disagree in ways that bring life to our relationships, rather than destroying enthusiasm and creating resentments
  • Finding common ground; seeing the other’s point of view – finding genuine agreement
  • Acceptance is the key; acceptance of those with differing opinions – being with people whose opinions differ; allowing others to be themselves rather than pushing them to be someone else

4. Hopes & Dreams

Setting aside instant gratification to build a future together

  • Our dreams very often reveal our hopes, fears, fantasies, and deepest desires.
  • Knowing what brings passion/energy/enthusiasm to the lives of those we love.
  • Willingness to delay gratification in order to achieve a joint dream

5. Feelings

Emotional reactions  being vulnerable enough to tell how you really feel 

  • Exploring how we really feel (about people, places, things, events)
  • Learning to express in healthy ways for ourselves and without being hurtful to another
  • Feelings often reveal our brokenness, our humanity, our need to be held, listened to, andloved 

• Allowing those we love to express their feelings; to be truly heard; listening

• Understanding why people have the feelings they do 

6. Faults, Fears & Failures

Exposing our woundedness

  • Tending to –healing– the wounds of our past. Healing our wounds and making new choices 
  • Sharing one’s history (one’s story)
  • Sharing that I have faults: that I need help, I am afraid, and I am not perfect
  • Knowing it’s not about trying to fix each other, but walking bravely with each other 
  • Forgiveness of self and others
  • Moving to making choices for the future – striving to be the best (rather than being victim to one’s past)

7. Legitimate Needs

Dynamic collaboration (to create a need-fulfilling lifestyle)

  • To know and be known – seeing, feeling, thinking, experiencing through your partner’s perspective 
  • With partner, creating a lifestyle focused on fulfillment of each other’s legitimate needs
  • Knowing and responding in a dynamic way to each other’s legitimate needs
  • Physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual needs

(As you cover each of the levels, consider brief examples of how you are currently expressing that level.)

[notice]Key Ideas from 7 Levels of Intimacy:[/notice]

  • Our essential purpose – the purpose of our life — is to become The-Best-Version-of-Ourselves
  • Intimacy is sharing the journey with another person.
  • We yearn to know and be known – we yearn for intimacy – the process of mutual self-revelation.
  • Intimacy requires that we allow another person to discover…what moves us, what inspires us, what drives us, what eats at us, what we are running toward, what we are running from, what silent self-destructive enemies lie within us, and what wild and wonderful dreams we hold in our hearts.
  • In our efforts to feel complete, worthy, fulfilled, and contented, we often chase pleasure, possessions, and status. But these do not fulfill us. You simply never can get enough of what you don’t really need.Contentment is found only by creating a lifestyle that tends to our legitimate needs – physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Intimacy is one of our real and legitimate needs.
  • The mutual fulfilling of legitimate needs is the pinnacle of relationships.
  • A good relationship is one where we are challenged and encouraged to become our best selves, while we encourage and challenge others to become all they are capable of being. Troubled relationships are those that lead us away from our essential purpose, those that encourage us to be lesser-versions-of-ourselves.
  • The journey through the seven levels of intimacy is a journey from the shallow to the deep, from irrelevant to relevant, from cliches to legitimate needs, from judgment to acceptance, from fear to courage, from false self to true self, from isolation to unity, and from loneliness to profound companionship.
  • Relationships are rarely confined to any single level…The seven levels are not a task to be completed and graduated from, but to be experienced and understood as a process.
  • Not all relationships deserve to experience all seven levels…but our marriage should be a place where we can experience the depths of intimacy. 
  • You cannot rush intimacy.

[notice]Consider This:[/notice]

Think about the relationships in your life, with your family, your children, your friends, and your co-workers.  How are the different levels of intimacy reflected in those relationships?  

Now consider your relationship with your partner and the levels of intimacy experienced in your relationship.

[quote]Personal Reflections[/quote]

  1. How has your level of intimacy changed with your partner since the beginning of your relationship?
  2. Is your level of intimacy with your partner different than you saw in your family of origin?
  3. How can you deepen the level of intimacy with others in your own life?

[quote]Connecting Conversations to Have with your Partner[/quote]

In considering the “legitimate needs” level of intimacy, what legitimate need do I want to share with you?  (Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, or Spiritual need.)  How do I feel about sharing with you at this level?

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