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The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  6,203 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
In The Dance of Intimacy, the bestselling author of The Dance of Anger outlines the steps to take so that good relationships can be strengthened and difficult ones can be healed. Taking a careful look at those relationships where intimacy is most challenged--by distance, intensity, or pain--she teaches us about the specific changes we can make to achieve a more solid sense ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 1989)
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I’ve had all this interaction recently with this particular gentleman who is involved in a couple of restraining orders and requests for no contact. The ladies who have asked him not to contact them have explained that their requests for no contact are an attempt to set definite boundaries and be clear that disrespectful treatment of them is unacceptable. Since they do not believe it is possible for him to contact them in a respectful manner, they don’t want him to contact them at all. “But,” th ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can't fix a relationship by focusing on the relationship. Since it is an act of teamwork, it can never be controlled by only one of its parts, and can never be more than the sum of those parts. But when one individual envisions what a healthy relationship is, and creates and acts out that vision on their end, many times the other half is inspired to follow and complete the vision. That is the idea behind this book, that strengthening the self will help so that self can be emotionally connect ...more
Christine Farmer
A challenging read - as in, it took me several months to get through, usually with a notebook in front of me writing down key sentences. This highlighted some of my habits and patterns that keep me "stuck" in relationships - work, family, friends, and romance.
The emphasis on **self-work** was so strong and so important. We don't build stronger relationships by insisting that the other change, we must evaluate and adjust our own perceptions and behaviors to more accurately reflect our true selve
Sep 09, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
July 2013
Rereading with my sister.
I don't remember this book being so feminist!
Still the best self-help book I've ever read.
"The disruption caused by change can only be solved by more change" and change is usually met with pressure to change back.

“Paradoxically, we cannot navigate clearly within a relationship unless we can live without it. For women, this presents an obvious dilemma. Only a small minority of us have been encouraged to put our primary energ
Dec 26, 2010 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Therapists interested in learning more about Bowen theory
It's a pity that I read this so many years after reading The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships, because I no longer remember The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships well enough to tell you whether the two books are redundant. The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships rocked my world when I read it, in part because I was having difficulty understanding my Bo ...more
Adam Ross
Jul 29, 2012 Adam Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first became interested in "family systems process" through Rich Bledsoe. This particular book, despite a "chick-ish" title, was very helpful as an introduction to family systems, overfunctioning, underfunctioning, and triangulation. The theory of family systems process counseling revolves around the idea that there are multigenerational patterns of dysfuction in family history. The suggestion is that at moments of great crisis and anxiety in our past families we tend to fall into similar patt ...more
Oct 05, 2014 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect book for improving one self on how to be intimate with others. I love the section on how to do self focus. I have a difficult time with this. I tend to do the whole "You do this and this.." whereas I need to focus on my self. "I feel this.." "I feel so and so.." I also like the section on settings limits. I like how she uses examples of different people and their relationships. It really shows how people react differently to situations and how like for instance where the daughter was rea ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Polina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I wish I haven't read! It clearly exposes the patterns and unconscious behaviours we engage in in our relationships. And once exposed I can't just keep doing the same old thing and have to change. And change is difficult, like the book keeps emphasising over and over again.

Read at your own risk, recommended only for those motivated to work to make their relationships more harmonious and to maintain the illusive balance between "I" and "we".
Dec 07, 2015 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dance of Intimacy is written as a guide for women who are seeking to deepen the intimacy in their important relationships. It had a lot of great advice and insight, and I found it to be equally applicable to my situation as a man. The author takes a perspective that is strongly feminist and also very compassionate towards individual men.

The author starts from the perspective that having intimate relationships with others requires first having a strong connection with yourself. She talks abou
Author was recommended by counselor. While dated and hetero normative, still had lots of excellent core material. I may have enjoyed it because it reaffirmed a number my own conclusions.
Mar 13, 2012 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a tremendously beneficial read for me. Harriet Lerner develops and shares a conceptual and practical framework regarding relationships and communication towards intimacy that really hit home. She uses case studies to show familial interactions that impede or destroy the development of true intimacy. Within these case studies I could view bits and pieces of inappropriate reactions and interventions I so often resorted to in dealing with my loved ones.This book was a wake up call at best ...more
Nov 20, 2010 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book. Keeper. A woman's guide to courageous acts of change in key relationships. In the Dance of Intimacy, the bestselling author of the Dance of Anger outline the steps to take so that good relationships where intimacy is most challenged by distance, intensity, or pain and she teaches us about the specific changes we can make to achieve a more solid sense of self and more intimate connectedness with others. Combining clear advice with vivid case examples (love it) Dr. Lerner offers ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Elle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Normally, I find 'self-help' books a struggle to read and, even if they are informative, I am usually very glad to finish them as the reading is so dry. Not so with Harriet Lerner's books. Whatever book I am reading of hers is always my favorite. The Dance of Anger is excellent in addressing overfunctioning/underfunctioning roles. This book continues to deal with influencing change by focusing on yourself but deals more with understanding triangles. I have already downloaded another Harriet Lern ...more
Mark Heywood
Jul 13, 2015 Mark Heywood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book on relationships, written by a woman intended to help other women with their relationships (all types, spouses, mother, father, siblings, etc.), but really quite a valuable read for men. Much of the book is not really specific to any one gender and quite universal to both. The parts more specific to women, however, are just as valuable to men to know if they are working on a relationship with a women. The book is very readable and takes a very practical approach to deliver each principle. ...more
Feb 10, 2015 Cara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life
I really got a lot out of The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships, so I was super psyched to read this one. Also, I've been having a really hard time concentrating on non-fiction lately, but this was an easy read. I found it a bit disappointing overall, though. Most of the insights in this book were things I'd already read in The Dance of Anger. Not a lot new here.

Basically, the premise is that if you're experiencing insufficient intimacy, you need
This book is full of wisdom. It was written for women coming from the perspective of how they have to do more emotional work in relationships. It has great insights for both genders though. I found how it dealt with adult relationships in the late 80s, and how they dealt with their parents from the 60s gave me a lot more perspective on my own parents and the transition from (agricultural/honor based / premodern/whatever) values. I also learned more about men -- as stated in the introduction: "In ...more
Jun 14, 2008 Lia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Along with Dance of Anger, the best book for understanding how relationship problems are mutually created and perpetuated. Brilliantly written.
Oct 12, 2015 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't just do something, stand there.

Don't just do something, stand there... is a great line from this book. It sums up a lot of what this book is about. The author invites us to step back from our current roles and think about how we contribute to our own "stuckness" in major relationships. I liked the in-depth examples she gave of various women and how they managed to take steps toward intimacy with their loved ones. She emphasized the important reality that change within a relationship is a p
Aug 31, 2009 Dawn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by my therapist...
May 21, 2013 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you find yourself "stuck" and blaming everything wrong in your relationships on somebody else, this is a book well worth reading.
I found The Dance of Intimacy to be very informative, insightful and challenging. I'd have to say I learned more concrete and useful info from this book than from most, if not all, counseling I've been through over the years. I'm not saying I agreed with her 100%, but enough that I'd recommend this book before I'd recommend a counselor (unless the therapist was the
Apr 17, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Contrary to what you might presume by the cover (that this book is about sexual intimacy), this book is about the connectivity in relationships. There is lots of emphasis on family of origin and creating genograms to help you understand family dynamics. While this might be important if you had an alcoholic parent or other problem in you family of origin, I'm not sure how relevant it is to me (although I'm sure I always could learn something using these techniques). I liked the idea that we can n ...more
Joseph Young
Mar 07, 2012 Joseph Young rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: overfunctioners who compensate for underfunctioners in their relationships
Was surprisingly pleased with this book. After reading Dance of Deception, was not expecting much from this. However, this book touched upon problems I had in several of my key relationships, as well as positioned them in a way that was easy to understand. This book speaks from the point of view of someone who has a problem in a relationship, but everything they do to try to fix it only seems to make it worse.

I especially liked the part about 3 party relationships, where a problem with one pers
Jude Arnold
Mar 20, 2012 Jude Arnold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dance of INTIMACY : A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships
By Harriet G. Lerner, PH.D 1989
In this wonderful book, Dr. Learner emphasizes the importance of making a pictorial representation of the facts of a family system for at least three generations. She asserts that these “anniversaries” in our first family have significant import in understanding ourselves and the cycles we repeat in future relationships.
I gave this book to my mom hoping we would make this gen
Aug 25, 2008 Corina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are two really good things to take from this book - the first is a well-needed jab at the sexism of the self-help industry. The first chapter ("The Pursuit of Intimacy: Is it Women's Work?") contains a thoughtful paragraph about how too many books exhort women to become better wives, more attractive, more balanced, etc.; "Surely, we do not need more of the same. Yet just as surely, on our own behalf, we may need to become more effective agents of change in our primary relationships."

Apr 08, 2015 Alie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing isn't the most literary, nor does it say anything particularly profound; but as someone who is juggling and struggling with a recent move, friendship conflicts, and familial discord, I found the anecdotes to be useful examples of how to move forward in productive and healthy ways within my relationships. Certain excerpts have helped me view my situation in new and better ways; overall I found it helpful, if only because it's allowing me to pursue change in a more mindful way.
I really enjoyed this and found it very helpful, although now that I've read The Dance of Anger, I would recommend reading that one first.

One of the things I really like about Lerner is that she is very upfront about her qualms about "self-help" books and the way that they market almost exclusively toward women. She really emphasizes that she does not want her book to be about telling women how to change the people around them, or how to change themselves in a way that "improves" their relations
Aug 30, 2015 Annabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is brilliant! Very interesting how Harriet Lerner explains her beliefs on achieving the fine balance of intimacy in relationships. I liked the way she presented her ideas, in a way that it did not feel forceful or domineering, but rather like talking to a close friend. Discovered a few good ideas that I will try in my relationships. Definitely recommend this book. Although its directed to women, there are many ideas that are universal for both men and women.
Aug 11, 2014 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks interested in psychology and self-improvement
Recommended to D by: Rikka Stewart
lerner continues to deliver thoughtful, well-reasoned, actionable advice from a feminist perspective. she's amazing.

specifically, this book looks at how we (especially women, but certainly not excluding men) respond to stress, trauma, and dysfunction in intimate relationships (family and romantic partnerships). lerner carefully and clearly lays out the most common reactions and then goes on to explain why certain reactions are flat-out harmful, others may initially feel good or even seem to hel
Lukas Lovas
There are quite a few good points gathered in this book, but I found the storytelling rather exhausting. Some principles were mentioned several times, and the repetition made the reading feel like a chore. I presume, this wouldn't be the case for people who had similiar problems, as those described in the book, and they could appreciate the repetition and slightly different aspects....but I couldn't
Feb 18, 2010 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I liked Ms. Learner's "The Dance of Anger" so much that I had to read "The Dance of Intimacy" too! The two books are so similar that I would suggest only reading one unless you like the concepts so much that you want a refresher in a different form. Despite their similarity, I really enjoyed this book. We seem to interact in triangles meaning three people in many aspects of our lives and it prevents us from truly being intimate with one person at a time. It's a scary thought to get so close to s ...more
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Harriet Lerner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the second of two daughters. Her parents, Archie and Rose Goldhor, were both children of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. They were high school graduates who wanted their daughters to "be someone" at a time when women were only supposed to "find someone."

"Achievement was next to Godliness for my sister, Susan, and me." Harriet notes. "My f
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