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Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't
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Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,249 ratings  ·  272 reviews
Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer solid guidance for making safe choices in relationships, from friendships to romance. They help identify the nurturing people we all need in our lives, as well as ones we need to learn to avoid. Safe People will help you to recognize 20 traits of relationally untrustworthy people. Discover what makes some people relationally safe, a ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 22nd 1996 by Zondervan (first published May 13th 1995)
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 ·  3,249 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, productivity
Okay first of all, I listened to the audiobook of this and it was hilarious. Like, just imagine a really calm and encouraging book talking about personality disorders and other psychological phenomena and giving lots of examples and case studies, but READ BY A GAME SHOW HOST. That is what this audiobook is like. So seriously, listen to it, because there are parts that are unintentionally laugh-out-loud funny. When he does women's voices it's the BEST. Or when he says things like "Bob had a secre ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Evil is defined in the Bible as anything that is harmful, or not beneficial, to your spiritual growth. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend apply this principle to relationships, with the challenge to evaluate yourself and your relationships with other people. God made people to be dependent on each other for love, encouragement, and support. A healthy relationship always involves honesty, acceptance, wise counsel, and confrontation. All of these are necessary for growth. The quality of your re ...more
Vicki Garza
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was eye-opening to me. I never understood my need for isolation, why I chose friends who weren't good for me, etc. After reading this book, I understand why God created community and how important it is to have safe people in my life who are God-given, loving and accepting. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with the need to be self-sufficient and isolated.
Heather R. Smith
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
The authors do a good job of identifying the behaviors of "unsafe" people, however I do not think they effectively cover how unsafe people can become "safe." I conclude, after reading the list of unsafe behaviors, that none of us are safe but rather all exhibit some forms of unsafe behavior. The authors attribute unsafe behaviors to the presence of sin, and since Scripture teaches all have sinned I think it's a fair conclusion then that everyone of us have unsafe parts of us to be addressed. I j ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I would give this book 2 or 3 stars, except that a lot of the advice it contained could be absolutely devastating for people in abusive relationships (especially those with religious & emotional abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting). If you're just having "normal" troubles, there's some decent basic relational advice about finding "safe" people. But the advice for how to know when you need to get out of a destructive relationship? Unclear (and therefore dangerous) in the extreme!

I expected much,
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erika by: Mamta
The subtitle of Safe People is exactly what this book is about: finding good people for all types of relationships. Part One explains what a "unsafe" person is by identifying personal and interpersonal traits. These individuals are typically categorized as abandoners, critics, or irresponsibles. Unsafe people do the following: believe they "have it all together" instead of admitting weaknesses; go on the defensive instead of accepting feedback; act self-righteously instead of humbly; apologize i ...more
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I recognize that I am jaded and uninterested in establishing romantic relationships at this point in my life. I don’t know where to begin to start new friendships. I realize I am damaged and noncommittal, and this upsets me. I don’t want to be an “unsafe” person, but it is hard because it is a struggle to let me myself be vulnerable to someone who may turn out to be “unsafe” themselves. These are all the reasons this book appealed to me.

When I first began reading, I did not realize it would be p
Sep 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Let me be clear: I'm damn near atheist. My therapist (Christian) assigned me this for an upcoming group session. She thought it would be beneficial and give us specific language to start discussion. She was correct. Even if you aren't religious or operating in a Christian denomination, this book can offer you some sound content.
I just skipped over the biblical sections, skimmed the spiritual mumbo jumbo (and admittedly rolled my eyes whenever they mentioned that a relationship with god was req
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book. I tend to end up in "unsafe" relationships with assholes, so I had to ask myself, "Self, you idiot, what is it that causes you to be drawn to those people?" The book answers this question and so many more. It's a very practical guide for how to find good people and how to be a good person as opposed to being/finding a total jerk. I would highly recommend.
Jeff Bobin
We all want people that we feel safe with. As a pastor I want people to feel safe when they talk with me and at times share intimate details of their lives with me. I picked this book up because I was serving a church where there seemed to be a mistrust of pastors from the time I arrived. I was a little taken back by that since everywhere else I had served people tended to trust me from the time I arrived and that trust would even deepen as we developed relationships and learned to be vulnerable ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Easily retitled "Safe vs. Unsafe People", while reading this book, I had the eery feeling that someone had videotaped my relationship and took notes...because the book identified the subtle unhealthy attributes of my (now Ex) spouse in great detail one bullet point to the next, and I came to view her (often unexplainable) behavior in a completely new way. Reading this was a "light bulb moment" in our separation, and one hopes a guiding light for the next relationship.

The book identifies the qual
David Stevenson
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
To preface, I've LOVED two books by Cloud/Townsend. Also, I listened to the audiobook, so perhaps that colored my experience.

I think this book should've been called "Unsafe People," because it concentrated a lot on the negatives. It also seemed to be from the perspective of a victim mentality - people are unsafe, and there's nothing you can do about it unless they change. There was a little about what you can do if you're in an unsafe relationship, but very little in comparison to simply getting
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I knew this was a good read when my initial reaction to it was anger. I was angry at a book! Clearly, it made an impact and like eating an elephant, I had to absorb it piece by piece. Many of the pages are covered in ink and have writing in the margins. This book should be considered an active read. Really get into it and take notes, recognize the emotions that spring up from its pages and work through them. I would and have recommended it to others.
Catherine Richmond
This would be great for a small group with a professional facilitator. Yes, we should avoid toxic people. But what if it's someone you're related to? What if it's someone who's been great for decades, then suddenly betrays you? What if it's someone in your care, like a child or person with a disability? After all, Jesus hung out with some unsafe people, including one who betrayed him.
There is a lot of good, thought-provoking content in this book, which is about discerning character and also becoming a person of better, "safer" character yourself. Some quotes:

"The Bible contains the keys to understanding how to tell safe people from unsafe ones. it also teaches how to become safe people for others" (12).

"If you're attracted to critical people, you may find relief in their clarity of thought and purity of vision. But you'll also find yourself guilt-ridden, compliant, and unabl
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The title is quite humble relative to the wealth and depth of wisdom about not just relationships, but about how we should be, each of us, a mature person as God intended us to be.

Reading this book, you will inevitably discover that you yourself has traits of unsafe person, and almost everyone you knew, has traits of unsafe people.

Moreover, the book pushes us to take the courage to open up for others and express our needs in relationships. As this courage is essential to be part of community and
Denise Sarkor
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-growth
On my journey to experience peace and safety once more, and to have my heart reawakened by the various forms of love, this was by far the most important 200 pages I read. Everyone should read this book as well as Boundaries by the same authors. Is it safe to be around you?
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on understanding people. People can be very cruel and heartless. This book explains and shares its views on why they can be like that. It opened my eyes to how people are. Thank you, Mr. Cloud for writing this. It has helped me tremendously.
Oct 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Some books burrow their way into your mind and even though at the time you weren’t ready to hear the information it shapes and informs your thinking. This is one of those books.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I confess that the title, "Safe People," led me to believe it was going to be about how to get rid of all the unsafe people in your life. And I think the authors titled it that way intentionally; even the tag line of the book gives you that impression.

As I read the book, though, and the descriptions of unsafe people at the beginning, I realized that a few of those traits even describe me. 😳 I think that's the authors' point: the line between "safe" and "unsafe" people isn't so black and white. B
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall great book. The only drawback I found was some weak theology, including a few instances of the author trying too hard to bend doctrine to fit his analogies. But I benefited so much from this book otherwise - spiritually, emotionally, and (hopefully soon) relationally. It's one I'd be more than willing to recommend to others who have traversed through rocky relationships.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, christian
Helpful information about identifying unsafe people, examining my own weaknesses, and the importance of healthy relationships, all with Biblical grounding. Occasionally the advice was too vague or the Biblical foundation seemed weak, but overall worth a read and had some relevant takeaways.
Reeco Butcher
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is great for identifying safe people, becoming a safe person and understanding our need for healthy relationships. I recommend. So good.
Beverly Diehl
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
These are the authors that wrote one of THE defining books on boundaries and setting limits in relationships. They also both hold PhDs, AND are strongly entrenched in the American Christian life philosophies.

If you, also, are strongly entrenched in the American Christian lifestyle, this would be an excellent read for you. If you are are NOT, especially if you still carry trauma from being involved in this lifestyle previously (*raises hand*) you may have to tiptoe through the God-talk in order t
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't by Henry Cloud and John Townsend deals with the problem of character discernment. Cloud and Townsend write, "Safe people are individuals who draw us closer to being the people God intended us to be. Though not perfect, they are ‘good enough’ in their own character that the net effect of their presence in our lives is positive. They are accepting, honest, and present, and they help us bear good fruit in our l ...more
Michael Philliber
I hate books like this one because I'm pretty certain the authors are talking about me! It was like that in the abnormal psychology class in college. Of course, Cloud and Townsend are not really talking about me, but about people in general. Yet, since Genesis 3 all of us have been playing manipulative and maladjusted relational games. We've grown up in families that have fine-tuned sinful patterns, and we are deeply ensconced in layered family systems that have handed off, generation after gene ...more
Samantha Kurtz
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You, discusses “safe” and “unsafe” relationships and helps the reader recognize characteristics from each type of relationship. Cloud and Townsend discuss how the reader can work on their “unsafe” characteristics to help better their relationships, recognize what makes people trustworthy, how to avoid unhealthy relationship and form positive ones, and learn the 20 traits of unsafe people. A good, thoughtful read. It helped me recognize som ...more
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I had been wanting to read this book already for a long time. I really appreciated another book by the same author Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives, and from the title this book seemed to me most useful.
I have some experience in trusting the wrong persons, and now wanted to learn how to find safe people.

So now I was finally listening to the audiobook version of this. But I gave it up with this book. It made me feel as if no
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
It took me forever to finish this, partially because each section gave me so much to think about. I'm a big fan of Cloud & Townsend, and just about everything they have put out strikes me as healthy--it's like a good satisfying meal for the heart and soul. Not sugar-coated and not harsh, just plain truth that refreshes. This one was no exception, and I loved some of the things it broke down about relationships and how to navigate and evaluate your own choices in them. Especially helpful to me wa ...more
Gina Brenna
I was a bit disappointed with this book. I think the authors are too black and white about people being either safe or unsafe. Maybe I have just not had the misfortune of meeting a great deal of people I would categorize as unsafe, but I feel like after reading it I can see ways that I, and people in my life, do unsafe things, but are in many ways still safe people. I do feel like I was able to make an evaluation of myself and whether or not I'm safe, which was my main desire in reading it. I wo ...more
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Dr. Cloud has written or co-written twenty-five books, including the two million-seller Boundaries. His most recent books are Boundaries for Leaders and Necessary Endings. He has earned three Gold Medallion awards, and was awarded the distinguished Retailers Choice award for God Will Make A Way.

As president of Cloud-Townsend Resources, Dr. Cloud has produced and conducted hundreds of public semina

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