1-Sentence-Summary: The Truth sees Neil Strauss draw lessons about monogamy, love and relationships learned from depression, sex addiction treatment, swinger parties and science labs, in the decade after becoming one of the world’s most notorious pick-up artists and desired single men on the planet.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Neil Strauss had to completely lose himself to write this book. I’m sure he didn’t want to, but the 10-year journey leading up to the publication of The Truth must’ve felt nothing shy of being strapped to a rollercoaster – naked and upside down.
After publishing The Game in 2005, millions of men sought out Neil for his advice on dating, or rather, getting women into bed. Completely lost in his habits of teaching, Neil eventually found himself unable to skip an opportunity to have sex, which eventually led him to cheating on his girlfriend – who he really loved – with her best friend.
Starting with a stint in rehab for sex addiction, he then decided to take the time he needed to find himself and re-commit to the love of his life, Ingrid. The two have been married for 3 years and now have a son.
I hope some of his lessons will help you find yourself and figure out your own love life:
- It is possible to be in love with more than one person.
- Most relationship problems come from your own family and childhood.
- The only way to find love is to build a healthy relationship with yourself.
Ready to take a close look in the mirror? Let’s do it!
Lesson 1: Polyamory means being in love with more than one person.
You’ve probably heard of something like an “open relationship” in which both partners are allowed to have sex with other people. However, did you know that there’s also research about being actually in love with multiple people?
It’s called polyamory and initially arose as sort of a protest against monogamy and the strict idea of marriage in our society. More than just about “humping around”, polyamory can create a strong spiritual connection among multiple partners, because it forces you to communicate incredibly openly and honestly, eradicates all judgment and leaves no room for the shaming people usually face when admitting that they’re sexually curious, even though in a monogamous relationship.
Think of it as having two partners, who you both love being around, going to dinner with or playing mini-golf, and then managing all of the connections amongst each other.
According to the movement’s followers, if a relationship becomes sexual, the spiritual base of openness it’s based on makes the sex something sacred that transcends all the prejudices of depravity and immorality.
Lesson 2: Most relationship problems come from your own family and childhood.
In Attached, Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller describe different attachment styles, reaching from avoidant over secure to anxious. Strauss paints a similar picture.
He says most of the time the traumatic experiences of your childhood determine how you turn out romantically later in life.
If your parents were emotionally distant, one parent left early in your life, or you never got any attention at home, chances are you’ll become a love addict. Love addicts constantly crave reassurance and affection from their partners and often feel un-worthy of love, thus matching the anxious attachment style of someone who’s constantly worried their partner might leave them.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are love avoidant people. Often weighed down by their parents’ problems, wishes, demands and expectations, they find it hard to trust people and make a deep connection with someone. This is the foundation of sex addiction (80% of sex addicts come from emotionally disturbed families).
None of these problems are caused by single individuals though – they always stem from the family as a whole. And while we all have a tendency to lean more towards one or the other, even if we’re not one of the extreme cases, these tendencies usually come from us trying to balance out what we experienced as kids, by going in the opposite direction.
However, if you’re looking for true love, there’s ultimately only one way to find it.
Lesson 3: Only once you build a healthy relationship with yourself, you can do so with someone else.
The key to a love addict or love avoider to become secure lies in building a healthy relationship – with him- or herself.
This is exactly what therapy tries to achieve in both cases, because only when your relationship with yourself is working, and you can trust yourself, can you then go out and do the same with another human being.
Strauss suggests taking two steps:
- Empty out.
- Fill up.
The first step means disconnecting, stepping back and saying no to sexual partners and relationships for a while, in order to understand and find yourself. Most of your problems can’t be solved with any relationship, because what’s broken is really you, not someone else.
Once you’ve emptied out, you can then fill up again, building a new relationship on honesty and responsibility. That means instead of jumping around from partner to partner, you enter a relationship knowing that you’re responsible for both your own and other people’s feelings.
Tune in to the here and now, focus on your relationship with yourself and remember that a moment of pleasure isn’t worth a lifetime of shame and regret.
My personal take-aways
Neil seems so much more mature now. I really like that. He’s got a wife. A kid. And even though his meteoric rise was followed by nothing shy of a plane crash, I can’t help but admire him. This man has probably lived more than most people ever will.
Not (just) because of all the sex, parties and models he’s dated, but also because he’s seen rehab clinics, therapists and been through more struggle than most people will ever deal with.
“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” is one of my favorite quotes by Robin Sharma. If anyone doesn’t have to worry about that, it’s Neil Strauss and that alone makes reading his stuff more than worthwhile.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Why most people start exploring polyamory with swinging (and what they call it instead)
- Two types of polyamorous relationships
- The only real sign of a sex addict (and why most diagnoses are bogus)
- Which solutions help deal with love avoidance and sex addiction
- What sections of your brain correspond with what part of your relationship and why that matters
Who would I recommend The Truth summary to?
The 29 year old who’s afraid of missing out on an adventurous sex life if he gets married to his high school sweetheart now, the 52 year old divorced single mum, who’s worried that she might end up alone, and anyone who’s had a traumatic childhood.