cover image The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved

The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved

Matthew Kelly. Fireside Books, $22.95 (271pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-6511-9

A throwaway buzzword in pop psychology, intimacy remains a litmus test for the health of relationships and is something everyone should strive for, says Kelly, the bestselling author of The Rhythm of Life. ""Intimacy is the one thing a person cannot live happily without,"" he writes. Since many people cling to the ""pubescent notion"" that intimacy and sex are synonymous, Kelly begins by talking about what intimacy is not-sex, common interests-and proffering up inspirational tidbits and oft heard motivational questions (""Who energizes you?"" ""Why do they energize you?"" ""How do you want to be remembered?"") before hammering home the thesis of this book: intimacy is a ""legitimate need."" His seven levels of intimacy-cliches; facts; opinions; hopes and dreams; feelings; faults, fears and failures; and legitimate needs-each get a chapter-length discussion. Kelly advocates openness-in communication, enduring pain, delaying gratification-and sprinkles in bits of spirituality in cajoling readers to foster intimacy, and, in turn, love and the meaning of life. ""Life is about love. It's about whom you love and whom you hurt. Life's about how you love and hurt the people close to you."" His view may seem simplistic, but Kelly's simple, direct prose and patient explanations will appeal to spiritual readers.