The Truth | An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships | Neil Strauss | Summary


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The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships


In The Truth, Neil Strauss takes on his greatest challenge yet: Relationships. And in this wild and highly entertaining ride, he explores the question that men and women are asking themselves every day:

  • Is it natural to be faithful to one person for life?
  • Do alternatives to monogamy lead to better relationships and greater happiness?
  • What draws us to the partners we choose?
  • Can we keep passion and romance from fading over time?

His quest for answers take him from Viagra-laden free-love orgies to sex addiction clinics, from cutting-edge science labs to modern-day harems, and, most terrifying of all, to his own mother.

What he discovered changed everything he knew about love, sex, relationships, and, ultimately, himself.

Searingly honest and compulsively readable, The Truth just may have the same effect on you.

If The Game taught you how to meet members of the opposite sex, The Truth will teach you how to keep them.


Key notes:

He checks himself into rehab for sex addiction. But he can tell the workers don’t like his questions because they expose the flaws in their system

The nurse attendant said if you’re look at porn or masturbating, you’re a sex addict. He new that he had a healthy relationship with a healthy person, but admitted that he was the thing wrong with the relationship

Lying is about controlling by someone else’s reality hoping that what they don’t know won’t hurt you

People are what matter, not things

He wanted to get ahead of his addiction so that it doesn’t destroy his family down the line

Guilt is about breaking the rulesShame is about being broken

Weeks earlier, they went to couples therapy and Neil admitted that he doesn’t know for sure if he can resist temptations yet. This is why he wants to go to rehab so he can get rid of this problem. They embrace and cry tears of sadness, relief, and hope

If you work hard enough at almost any behavior, it can be changed in 3 to 5 years. Another term for recovery is behavior modification

To survive painful beliefs and feelings, we often mask them with anger. That way we don’t have to feel the shame behind it


The payoff of anger in response to when you feel ashamed is masterycontrol, or power. So the anger makes you feel better or “one-up”

When you use sex to restore power or feel better about yourself in a similar way, this is what’s known as eroticized rage

Some studies show that testosterone might have something to do with sex urges. Why gay men tend to have more casual sex, and women with testosterone treatment have more sex drive

He remembers his mom complaining to him in the middle of the night about his father and how he makes her so miserable

His mother was very strict and controlling growing up. It made him hate arbitrary rules he had to put up with

The big secret was that his father had a weird fetish for amputees and cripples, and his mom hated his dad because she felt like a prize for his fetish

She told Neil not to tell anyone nor his dad that they knew about it

The therapist Joan came to the conclusion that in addiction this fathers sex addiction, his mom wanted to be in a relationship with him. Which was why she was more strict and harsh with him than his brother

That’s why he was never able to have a healthy relationship with women, and why there was a double standard between him and his brother

It wasn’t on purpose, but her actions proved she wanted him for herself

Joan calls this relationship dynamic “emotional incest

Ingrid’s father cheated on her mother with several women and was still with his supposed ex-wife having more children and leading a double life. He then almost killed her mom during an argument

A lot of times, people think it’s just one person in a family that causes all the trouble

In reality, a family is a system, and a sick person is a product of a sick system

He thought that for his mom, sex and affairs were okay for Neil, but a real girlfriend would be competition

If you felt feeling sorry for or smothered by a parent, this is a sign enmeshment likely occurred. They lose their sense of self and avoid letting anyone get too close or let the lift get sucked out of them again

The abandoned can’t contain their feelings, while the enmeshed can be perfectionistic and controlling of themselves and others

In a relationship, they put up walls and use distancing techniques to avoid intimacy

Aka avoidant attachment or love avoidance

Most sex addicts are love avoidants

Ingrid admits that she was in rehab for 2 years in the past

He remembers during the end of high school that 2 girls from his school asked him to come over and have a threesome, but he was grounded and didn’t want to rebel and leave home

In this case, a pattern occurs: The avoidant gives and gives, sacrificing his own needs. But it is never enough for the love addict

So the avoidant grows resentful and seeks an outlet outside of the relationship, but at the same time feels too guilty to stop taking care of the needy person

This outlet can take the form of an affair, but it can also be excessive exercising, or work, or drugs, or living on the edge, or anything high-risk

He will also compartmentalize it because the secrecy helps kick that intensity up a notch

In the meantime, as the avoidant wall keeps getting higher, the love addict uses denial to hold onto the fantasy and start accepting unacceptable behavior

A healthy relationship is when two individuated adults decide to have a relationship and that becomes a third entity They nurture the relationship, and the relationship nurtures them

But they are not overly dependent or independent, they are interdependent, which means they take care of the majority of their needs and wants on their own, but when they can’t, they’re not afraid to ask their partner for help

Key idea: only when our love for someone exceeds our need for them, do we have a shot at a genuine relationship together

Neil questions this paradigm that intimacy is the ideal and holy Grail for someone, especially in a relationship. He questions whether the intensity and highs are more worth it then this prized thing called intimacy

As he does the exercise with Lorraine regarding giving the shame back to his parents, he hears his group of sex addicts cry in support of him

He realized that his mom feels on the outside what his dad feels on the inside

He recognized that his parents did belong with each other

He felt a release of lightness after discovering the truth that his blackness was not him, but his parents

All his anxiety and guilt and fear peeled away as if they were layers of clothing he didn’t know he was wearing

He thought it was a part of his skin the whole time, but turns out it was someone else’s

Real intelligence is when your mind and heart connect. That’s when you see the truth so clearly and unmistakably that you don’t have to think about it

Pets are the gateway drug to children


As a general rule, when a woman over 25 gets a dog it means she’s ready to start a family

The brain scan doctor tells him he has a bunch more diseases and things wrong with him

He says you are as faithful as you decide to be if your brain is healthy

If your brain is not healthy, then you are as faithful as your options

He realized that his self-destructive impulses he’s had lately is not actually about wanting to hurt himself. It’s about freedom. It’s about not wanting to live under constant scrutiny, to be responsible for her feelings, to feel guilty if he happens to have a sexual thought that’s not about her. To feel like his every word or expression is a red-hot brand that may scare her

Perhaps relationships are like heart surgery, even the smallest mistake can be fatal

There are three primary brain systems for meaning:


Romantic love

Deep attachment

After the initial intensity of a new relationship, our romance and sex drives often swing towards other people, while our attachment drive remains connected to our primary partner

This natural ebbing of romance can be prevented, she says

The solution is for couples to do novel and exciting things together to release dopamine and get the romance rush

Make love regularly to release oxytocin and sexually bond

Cut themselves off from cheating opportunities, and in general, make sure their partners are continually thrilling enough to keep all three drives humming

A lot of research is telling him that monogamy for humans is not normal

A historian on marriage tells him that the tradition of marriage was never even supposed to be about intimacy

For the majority of its history, marriage was an economic and political institution, mostly about merging resourcesforming alliances, or creating a bloodline for inheritance

Not until the late 18th century did people marry for love, and not until the late 20th century for it to start becoming an intimate partnership rather than a patriarchal institution

Today, love and relationships has become a build-your-own model

He was “free” when he and Ingrid broke up

He feels fine with the fatherhood and the responsibility, it’s the exclusivity of a monogamous relationship he has issues with

Loneliness is holding in a joke because you have no one to share with

For most men, what’s tougher than breaking up is the moment when their ex finally falls out of love with him and let’s go

Neil makes the argument to a couple he knows over dinner that a woman’s emotional needs get met not only from her husband but from other sources like friends and family

However, a man’s sexual needs can only be met through his wife which isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense

Most women think there is a quantity of time you have to wait before putting out. This is not the case

It is more about the quality of the connection

In life, whoever has the strongest reality wins

Lose your moral certainty and lose the ground you stand on

He was able to begin to form his polygamy family with Veronica and Anne

Lesson: The quickest route to poly-harmony and life among the rest of the walking wounded is truth and understanding

Perhaps the secret of fidelity is knowing the grass is crazier on the other side Sexual experimentation is fun until you’re with someone you have feelings for

Caringunderstanding, and trust need to be established first

Impatience is the enemy of intimacy

In the dance of infatuation, we see others not as they are but as a projection of who we want them to be

And we impose on them all the imaginary criteria we think will fill the void in our hearts

But in the end, this strategy leads only to suffering. It’s not a relationship when the other person is left completely out of it

In father Yode’s polygamy, each woman was already bonded communally

They were all “primary” in their respective roles

The problem that many people have is that the exact quality that originally attracted them to their partner becomes a threat once a serious relationships begins

But freedom doesn’t taste quite as sweet without security

He’s second guessing whether a truly open relationship like he has with Sage is really what he wants

Mating in Captivity book says the way to keep romance and sex hot in a relationship is through separationunpredictability, and fear of loss

After he found out Sage had cheated on him in their open relationship, he realized he had gotten what he deserved: someone just like him

She wanted the security if the relationship without the responsibility

If the male game is getting sex, the female game is withholding it

The only relationship he hasn’t tried was the one with himself

It takes humility to change

Good parenting will promote better oxytocin and vasopressin systems in the long run

These are linked with more closely bonding individuals when it comes to romantic relationships

Lorraine told him he had to cut off all communication with any sexual or potentially sexual relationships by changing his contact info

Love is something about a person, some connection with them that makes you willing to change

He realized that he needed to treat monogamy as a choice, not something he’s forced to do

The inner child isn’t just a metaphor, it’s real. It is our past

The only way to escape the past is to embrace it

There are plans, and then there is Life

Life trumps plans every time

They say that love is blind, but it’s trauma that is blind. Love sees what is

Love is not an accident. It is a delicate union of two complex, complementary puzzle pieces that have inadvertently been created by different manufacturers

Love isn’t something we’ve learned, it is something we have and we must unlearn in order to access it

Recovery is not about perpetually living in joy and harmony, but about shortening the time it takes to return there when you inevitably fuck it up

Love is not about finding the right person, it is about becoming the right person

It turns out that relationships don’t require sacrifices. They just require growing up and the ability to stop clinging to immature and needs that are so tenacious they keep the mature needs from getting met

Before his recovery, he always wanted more of everything. Now, he feels like he has enough with just her

He developed a relationship he been looking for the whole time: a relationship without fear

The opposite of fear is not joy, but acceptance

The best thing we can do for our relationship with others is to render our relationship to ourselves more conscious

The greatest gift to others is our own best selves



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