By Rebecca White and Myesha Cobb

It’s no secret that relationships and love are hard to navigate sometimes. It’s easy to become unsure of ourselves and not know how to deal with questions surrounding things like monogamy and faithfulness. Fortunately, author Neil Strauss tackles these tough topics in his new book The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. He addresses issues that couples face on a daily basis and shares his own journey along the way. In our exclusive author interview, Strauss talks about the inspiration for his autobiography, the lesson he hopes his readers learn, and his three best pieces of expert relationship advice.

Expert Relationship Advice from Author Neil Strauss

To start, we love the premise of The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. Why did you decide to write an autobiography?

I write my books because I want to use my personal experiences to solve a problem in my own life and to help others. So I wrote The Truth because I felt like I had a real issue with intimacy and connection. I found a solution for it, and I felt like what I discovered could make a difference for my readers.

Related Link: Going from ‘It’s Complicated’ to Monogamy: 5 Tips Every Woman Should Know

After writing the book, what were your final conclusions? Is it natural to be faithful to one person for life?

The main conclusion is that a relationship and love has almost nothing to do with the other person. It really has to do with you and the way that you choose to relate to them. The first thing I found was that the healthiest thing to do for your relationship is to work on yourself.

As for whether or not it’s natural to be faithful to one person for life, I think the answer to that question is different for everyone. First, get healthy. Then, do what feels right, whether that be monogamy or not. Do what you like. I think that the ideas in our culture about relationships are actually counterproductive.

Did you have any personal revelations while working on The Truth?

The biggest revelation I had was about my parents. By having a needy, smothering, and anxious parent of the same sex that I was attracted to, I began to recoil anytime I was with a partner who got needy. It set a template in my heart for being distant in a relationship.

What do you think will surprise your readers the most about your new book?

I think a lot of these experiences, in the world of open relationships and non-monogamy, were not what I expected them to be or what other people would expect.

You previously said that you’re not the “hero in this tale” and that you are the “villain.” Why do you feel that way?

It’s just true. The book begins with me cheating on my girlfriends! I tried to figure out how I could do that to someone I love. Throughout my story, I start to care about why would I cheat, why would I hurt them, why would I betray my own value system.

Related Link: Find Out If Your Partner is Undateable with ‘The Cheat Sheet’

Relationships were a challenge for you, especially coming out of the “seduction community.” Do you have any advice for our visitors who are also struggling to maintain a serious relationship?

My relationship advice is to stop trying to change the other person and really start looking at yourself and your patterns. Recognize that we’re often attracted to people who possess the worst traits of our parents of the same sex. Then, we try to get them to change to heal our childhood wounds through a subconscious level. If we recognize that, then we can start to do something about it.

It’s also important to understand the stages of a relationship. Usually, a relationship starts with projection, where you don’t truly see who the other person is; you just see who you want them to be. The next stage is disillusionment, where you see who they really are and not your fantasy. That’s why people break-up in that three to nine month window — because you’re seeing who they really are. Then, there’s a power struggle or conflict. If you get through that, there’s a relationship. If you can recognize the baggage you both bring and unpack that baggage, you get to have a relationship that’s ten times better than the fantasy.

Now, we’d like to ask some personal questions. You got married in 2013 — congratulations! What made you become a one-woman man?

It was really the work I did on myself. I recognized if I didn’t change, every relationship I had would fall apart. I really worked hard with really, really deep therapy, not just talk therapy. I treated my childhood wounds like cancer, so I could have control over them. And Ingrid as well — she worked on her abandonment issues.

And how did you know that your wife was The One?

You never really know. Asking that question can be detrimental. To me, I just asked myself over and over again, “Am I really, really happy?” And the answer was always yes. She lights up my life.

You also welcomed your first child earlier this year. How has it been from transitioning from seduction community to husband to father? Did becoming a parent change your marriage?

That’s just how life works. You’re young and want to date a lot. Then, maybe you want to build something bigger and build a life with someone. Then, you think we’re happy and maybe we should have a baby. So the transitioning is very natural. All the work we did on ourselves allows me and Ingrid to be the best, healthy, and nurturing parents we can be, so our child doesn’t have the issues we had.

Becoming parents made our relationship better. Our relationship is still important; we still have that connection time. I was initially scared of marriage because of my parents, but sometimes, what you’re scared of is what you should be doing.

Related Link: Relationship Advice: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Saying “I Do.” 

Lastly, what’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?

It’s really different than what you might read about or what you’re expecting, but I really wanted to share these with everyone. I have three pieces of love advice:

  1. Unexpressed expectations are pre-meditated resentment. People build up resentment in their relationship by not communicating.
  2. A relationship is not about finding the right person; it’s about becoming the right person. Become that person yourself, and you’re bound to attract someone at your level of emotional maturity.
  3. Only when your love for someone exceeds your need for them can you have a shot at a genuine relationship with them. Sometimes, you need someone more than you love them, and that shouldn’t be the case.

You can learn more by purchasing The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships from Amazon and also visiting his website NeilStrauss.com