Countless experts offer us advice on how to create the “perfect relationship,” fostering the unrealistic expectation that forming an intimate bond will be a painless experience. Unfortunately, few experts are willing to confront the powerful challenges and emotions inherent within close relationships today. In contrast to other intimacy books, Too Close for Comfort vividly describes the surprising dangers, damage to self-esteem, inadequacies, and immaturities that characterize the contemporary state of romantic intimacy. Too Close for Comfort compassionately explores the risks and misunderstandings that occur within many intimate relationships. Romantic partners tend to hurt each other not only by insensitivity and neglect, but also by criticism, abuse, and betrayal – most of which spring from insecurity. Dr. Piorkowski, a noted consulting psychologist and educator, focuses on the vulnerability both partners experience in intimacy due to the emergence of strong, unrealistic needs that are almost impossible to satisfy. The author contends that people avoid the perils of intimacy by donning one or more defensive “masks” – ranging from acting superior to mysterious, comical to withdrawn, self-sufficient to dependent – in an effort to protect themselves from emotional exposure. Presenting a fascinating range of clinical examples, she sensitively depicts the fears of intimacy that limit contact, namely psychological concerns about loss of control or autonomy, feelings of disappointment and abandonment, or of being attacked and made to feel guilty. Depicting women’s reliance on verbal expression to achieve an emotional connection versus men’s dependence on physical contact, Dr. Piorkowski brilliantly elucidates the complex barriers to intimacy, especially the chasms of misunderstanding created by vast sexual differences and attitudes. While this book is unique in its exposition of the dangers in intimacy, its message is not pessimistic.
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