One Relationship Risk You Should Take

taking risks for a relationshipsLet’s talk about the risks you take in your romantic life. I’ll start with a quick story…

Jill just finished a one-on-one review with her boss. She’s venting to a friend in the break room.

Her boss gave her some criticism. He said she’s not “applying herself.” But she’s frustrated because she simply doesn’t know if putting in extra effort will pay off.

“I would work a lot harder if I knew it would guarantee a promotion or a raise,” she tells her friend.

Lance, a coworker, is pouring a cup of coffee within earshot. He understands completely. “Yeah, and I’d ask you out if I knew you were going to say yes,” he thinks to himself.

Jill and Lance are both wrestling with a common problem. We all struggle with feelings of uncertainty. No matter how brave or bold you are, it’s hard to commit when there’s no guaranteed payoff.

There’s a word for that. Risk. And if you deal with a risk like Jill and Lance, you’ll miss out on a lot of life’s rewards.

That’s especially true in relationships.

Of course, in a committed relationship the stakes are a little different. The temptation to avoid risk in a relationship goes more like this: “Prove that you’re really into me first, and then I’ll be more selfless, giving and transparent.”

In other words, we want to play it safe. Unfortunately, we often just hold ourselves back.

Don’t get me wrong. I see the logic. Taking relationship risks is legitimately scary. I mean, why put yourself out there if there’s a chance you’ll end up disappointed or hurt?

I’ll tell you why. Because everything worth having in life and in relationships involves risk.

Think of it this way. Life is a gamble. There are no guarantees.

Sure, you might invest in someone and things might not work out. But you’re never going to win anything unless you risk something.

taking risks for a relationshipsHere’s a trait a lot of successful people have. It’s a willingness to go all out even though there’s no guarantee of reward from all the effort. Over time, this mentality leads to the kinds of rewards that other people think were the results of luck.

Be willing to pay for what you want in advance of receiving the reward. You’ll discover more of life’s hidden rewards when you do.

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26 thoughts on “One Relationship Risk You Should Take

  1. Anna said:

    Thank you James, for another encouraging article:) I have taken ALOT of your advice these past months, and i see such a huge difference in my marriage! We were ready for a separation, but now my honey is so sweet! And it has even made a difference for our son! He was such a sad, angry teen, but now he’s usually happy and upbeat! I am so greatful to you James! I have tried other relationship expert sites, and i can honestly say- YOURS IS THE BEST! I am learning to accept the male genders way of thinking, and yes its different then females, but thats good because it gives us ladies an amusing challenge! I notice as many male reactions as i did before i read your articles, but the BIG DIFFERENCE now, is i can UNDERSTAND! I couldnt understand before you explained it. And so i couldnt accept and respect it till now. THATS HUGE!

    • James Bauer said:

      Thanks, Anna. Your encouraging words mean a lot to me. And I’m so happy to hear of the positive changes you have seen in your family!


  2. Cynthia Erikson said:

    He should of been upfront from the beginning. Maybe he thought he could handle your drinking, but somewhere along the line, he changed his mind…that is when he should of told you…I was married to a recovering alcoholic for 18 years…during that time I drank very little as I was raising our kids. He decided he could drink again, and within 2 years I left him. I couldn’t deal with how much our life changed. I know this is a different story than yours, but it’s tough living with an alcoholic or being a recovering alcoholic and living with someone who still gets to drink…enjoying something that the other loved and had to give up…to an alcoholic that still drinks…this is the number one love of their life…and most don’t quit unless they have to for some reason!

  3. Flora said:

    And all I can say, as it plays over and over in my mind, like a limpet to a rock, he has forsaken all of our beautiful times, to choose a way out, to save himself. Even so, the fallout has been drastic, leaving me feeling paralysed, still trudging on in frontline career, feeling devoid and with a beautiful intelligent effervescent feeling child just starting school. Am just coming through this, finally, but I don’t really know, as maybe I’ll hit rock bottom again in an hour or so. And still, no answers, no conclusion, cut off, pretty devastated.

    I feel he hates me now as I’ve not helped, but then he hasn’t either by closing himself off so severely. There is no way we can get back. He is resolute. I’m at the point of acceptance but also despise. So many things we had in common and resonated. But, the one thing, alcohol, that he felt he couldn’t deal with, despite what he had said, at the beginning, and finally decided he couldn’t cope. I’m lost. Trying to move on.

    • Cate said:

      Dear Flora,
      You have to move on as surely as this man cannot handle alcohol. My husband is a recovering alcoholic (sober 32 years) and thankfully I’ve never been much of a drinker. Most of the times when I have had a drink around him, he is fine with it. But I try and steer clear of beer, his drink of choice, because when we were out for dinner one night and I had a beer, he got strangely quiet. And the next morning he said he had had a dream about having a beer. If I had to never have another drink in my life, it would be well worth it.
      AA saved him, his best friends are his AA friends and his sobriety is clearly the most important thing to him because without it the rest of his life and his relationships fall into chaos. You have to respect that.
      So no matter how you two feel about each other, alcohol is poison to him and he has to hold on to his sobriety, whatever the cost.
      Move on and be careful about your own drinking and avoid men who have a problem with it. There will be someone better suited fro you but you won’t see them if you insist on rehashing the past.
      Be happy,

      • Flora said:

        Dear Cate

        Thank you for your kind and wise words. Still hurting. Feel like my heart has been ripped out and cast aside. Getting better. X

  4. Flora said:

    P.s when I said I wouldn’t drink anymore he said “I don’t have the resolve to live through this” ?

  5. Flora said:

    My relationship ended abruptly 3 months ago. There was no warning. We were effortless and in synch. We were together for just under one year. There were no disagreements or criticisms. Although he had started snapping at me 3 weeks before the end. A week before he ended it he had said he was more madly in love with me than ever before, loved me more and more each day, had never cared or been so passionate about a relationship before.

    He was a recovering alcoholic, sober and clean for 13 years. I like a drink, and my lifestyle encourages that. In the beginning he said he didn’t mind me drinking, if anything ever bothered us we’d discuss it.

    Turns out he did mind, and didn’t discuss it, silently bargaining in his head, giving me 3 chances throughout this year.

    Everyone he knows drinks, including family. I perhaps drink more than I should, like most people I know. I have a stressful life and it helps me to relax. However, he had made various subtle hints and now thinks I have an issue (no one else thinks this).

    2 months before the end, his ex wife had a breakdown and had residential treatment. His 3 children didn’t know what was happening, he had to be the one tell them, they went into meltdown. One ran away from the maternal home, the eldest has now left the maternal home, now living with him.

    He has a brilliant intelligent fulfilling successful career.

    Before he ended it, I said I would not drink anymore (or not around him, by the way I never changed as a person when drinking, everything was still harmonious, or so I thought), but he said I would have to do it without him, which completely blindsided me. I would have done anything to save us but, he was not convinced by my conviction.

    I’ve asked him how he could say all those beautiful things, then just abruptly end it.

    He doesn’t answer. Only that he is happy with his sobriety but that depends on healthy life choices he makes and this is one of them, “just being in love with a drinker is killing my self esteem and peace of mind and my life depends on these values… I cannot be with you it’s simply not right for me.. I can love you yet sadly detach if to stay is not healthy for me”.
    I’m coming slowly to realisations he felt panicked, there were triggers that might lead him to relapse, I was a deep mirror for him and of his past, he felt resentment of me, was insecure of any attention I get, insecurities (of which he had years ago), that it was more beneficial for him to exit, as if I had, again that may have hit him hard.

    He has completely cut me off, blocked my number and other communication outlets, telling me he will delete my emails without reading.

    Some negative things have been said, mostly by me through my frustration, sorrow, fear, grief, confusion, anger etc and him making broken promises, such as talking to his AA sponsor, then writing to me if it will help my understanding of what has happened as well as his.

    I fail to understand (but deep down I think I know) how he can behave like this, why he has ended it. I’m thinking self preservation and of course being strong for his children. As he wont give me answers I’m left with no closure.

  6. Cate said:

    I think you should stop thinking about him and start thinking about you. Why do you keep going back to the same destructive relationship and making the same bad choices? It sounds like you’re confusing drama with ”romance”.
    Are you a good person? Do you deserve a loving, trustworthy, honest man in your life? Or are you desperate, accepting lies and crumbs of sex, disguised as affection because you feel incomplete without a man, any man in your life? Too many women put up with behavior they would never tolerate from their female friends.
    Value yourself, concentrate on developing the best in yourself and believe that there is someone out there for you who will love and cherish you and treat you in the way you deserve. Because when you are mentally and emotionally healthy, you will be ready for that person.
    Life is difficult, messy and complicated enough, stop making it harder by burdening yourself with unworthy, messed up people.

  7. Mercedes said:

    Hello James,

    My husband and I have been married 3 times and are in the process of another divorce. It’s so frustrated because he’s the father of my son who I met in high school and have been thru so much and gone thru this so many times that It’s hard to make the right decision.

    When I met him we were 16 and he swept me off my feet. He’s a very nice, shy and such a gentlemen, not to mention very handsome. I met him thru a friend and started dating. I lost my virginity to him and I felt like he had to be the one, coming from a Christian home I didn’t want people to think I just slept with him and that didn’t plan on getting married. So even though we were not ready I got pregnant. He insisted on an abortion but of course that was never in my plans. We left each other (he left) but would still see you each other until one day he have me an std. I felt very lonely being pregnant on my own and when I was close to having my baby we gave it another try. I moved in with him and his parents but he worked at a local beer store and would get home late . Little by little he started changing again and would not come home right after work m, I would confront him until one day he told me to move in back to my moms, I cried a lot and decided to go to my moms by that time I already had another transmitted std.. After a few months when I was about to have my baby we started talking again, decided to give it a try again but realize I had transmitted another std.. Later on when I had my baby I decided to give him another chance we were planning on getting married but only to find a whole bunch of hickies on his body a few weeks later I left him but he started begging me on how he would change and having a newborn baby by myself made me forgive him and decided to get married .. It wasn’t long when I started noticing him act strange again, he would watch porn, sleep with prostitutes, masturbate, have hickies but it wasn’t until he started playing soccer and met a child hood girl that he felt for and would live me at home while him and his sister would go play . Until one day I said enough and told his parent I was leaving, after I left a few days later they were dating and I divorced him. For five years they were together and at first I would still see him eventhough he was with her because I felt like it didn’t matter anymore I had my life going already and had fun with my friends so why not. After a few months the love I had for him faded and I decided to stop seeing him. It wasn’t until 5yrs later when I finished college and so did he and we both had a career that he called me to talk about child support. We started talking for days until one day decided to meet at a hotel, one thing led to another and next thing you know we were meeting again at least twice a week. Not to forget he had a home with his girlfriend. There came a point where I felt in love with him again and told him to leave her and he did. He did, he left everything for me and I felt so special. We decided to get married again. That’s when his sister told me how many times he cheated on her too. I felt like he did it because he missed me, so didn’t pay too much attention. I was wrong, I would see txt of escorts and he would say they were wrong numbers and it wasn’t until he started getting in trouble by drug selling and making money that he started changing. We lived at my moms and he would act different at times until one time I saw a txt from a girl, I confronted him about it and decided to leave instead. We would talk still and he would come over but didn’t want to move in. It wasn’t until he got arrested that he begged me for help and forgiveness, I believed him again and moved in with him and his parents. He was out on bond but would have to do 2 yrs of time soon. He was out on bond a few weeks and in those weeks I found out he was talking to a stripper all that time . She text it him once and I saw the number and called her. She told me how they were in a relationship and how he would say he loved her. I left again back to my moms devastated, he wouldn’t talk to me for days until he started begging me again that he had changed and it was nothing serious between them. I started talking to him little by little even though I would find out he would still talk to her. One day the stripper said he would never talk to him again because she didn’t want to be a home wrecker and he told me he didn’t ever want to talk to her. So I moved back in with him. There was no trust but I figured if he’s going to do 2years in prison soon, what else can he do? He should be a change person by now, he would even go to church with me. Until one day I saw a txt from an escort, saying how good he tasted. I confronted him and he of course denied it. I saved the number and txt it the escort from his phone like it was him and it was a shemale who described him and his car so I knew it was true. I left and divorced him. He later called me from a prison phone and asked for forgiveness . I didn’t talked to him even after his letters and all the letters he would send my son and my mom for help to get back with me. I tried to move on but a few weeks before he was out he was put on a halfway house and told me if I could go and take our son. I did, and felt in love with him again, he told me how he was getting help and counseling and was a changed man. I thought after everything he’s been thru he had to change. When he was completely done with his time, he went back to his house and decided to talk again eventhough we didn’t live together. Until one day I was at his house and went thru his phone and saw all this different escort txt and numbers, emails and pictures of him naked. I told him how sick he was and he should get help and left. Weeks later, we had to talk about our son again and mentioned if he could attend church with us. He did and before I knew it we started talking again. We wanted to live together but coming from a Christian home that wasn’t possible unless we got married again, in which we did. We moved in with my mom, since he wasn’t making too much money yet and I took him out of child support to help him. A few months later, I was at home sick when I hear a txt from his phone. It was from a shemale escort asking why he hadn’t been there lately. I confronted him and he was shocked. He called the number and told her she had the wrong number. A few weeks later I find another number from an escort and of course he had no idea. The trust was so bad I kicked him out. He left back to his parents but wasn’t long before he started coming over. He told me I kicked him out for no reason and I felt like I never had proves so decided to move in with his parents. Trust was not there but I really tried to have a happy family. Until one day I came along some pictures that his sister showed me of him and his friend and it was him before he went to prison with a big red mark on his neck. He said how we weren’t together and that it was a rash anyways. Later on I left again after I found some condoms in his room. Wasn’t long after he convinced me to come back. But I kept finding numbers, condoms one time in my sons room, and the last thing I found a website looking for escorts again. I confronted him again and he deleted the website and told me if I wanted to leave to go but not make a scene or talk about it. I packed my stuff as well as my sons who is about to be 15. I moved in with my brother and his wife while I get my own place. He doesn’t want to talk to me because according to him he didn’t do anything. He got a new phone and didn’t give me his number. I have emailed him for child support help and that’s all he wants to talk about. I have my own business, financially I don’t need him, I can make it on my own but we are married for the third time, we’ve been thru so much I don’t want throw everything away. I told him to get help for his own good but he doesn’t want to talk about it.

    My outside life seems so normal but because no one knows what a roller coaster it has been. He’s such a good person. Helps me in any way he can. We have so much in common and enjoy each other’s company but I cannot get over everything I’ve seen on his phone. Even if he didn’t go thru it, just the thought he would look at them or txt them. What should I do?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Mercedes, for questions that require a lot of detailed background information, please use our private advice service. You can submit your question here.

    • Emily said:

      Dear M,
      Porn changes the way a man thinks and treats his girl/wife. It is an addiction. Please, find a way to get out. There are great guys out there
      who will respect you and won’t cheat.

  8. Melissa said:

    Hi James,

    Just ended a 5 year relationship a few months ago with a very emotionally detached guy. I haven’t moved on at least not until I go thru all the grief stages and look back at what we both did to destroy what was once a great relationship that ended in resentment and misunderstanding of who each other really are, lack of communication and vengeful games which he is a master at. I know we still love each other. Just trying to figure out how to get it back without dragging up the mistakes in from our past. We both tested each other in silence. Of course failed! Any advice on how to approach this situation?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Melissa. That would be a great question for our private coaching service. There are some details that would need to be gathered to address that personal situation. You can click here to brainstorm with one of our relationship coaches.

  9. christine said:

    Hello James

    I never heard back from you with what I had sent to you yesterday.


  10. Jen said:

    I love this article James!

    This is something I’ve learned and the results have only added incredible encounters and experiences to my relationships of all kinds: friends, neighbors, business and yes, the men I date. I have this quote I began applying about two years ago that prompts me to take risks, it says “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.”by Benjamin Mee, We Bought A Zoo.

    When I think I need to step out of my comfort zone I say this to myself “What’s the risk? Is it going to cause harm? Am I cool with the fall out if any?” (Most often yes, because the risk really usually minimal in the big picture). Then if I’m afraid – I just say, “Okay girl, do it afraid – but do it” This process has become a natural way of me giving more of myself to others and stepping out embracing life in a fuller way. I can’t believe the difference it makes everyday.

    You are right! Everything worth having in life and in relationships involves risk.

    I vote Yes! Take the risk of putting yourself on the line and see what happens. For me, only great things have come my way.

    : ) Jen

    • James Bauer said:

      I like the quote, Jen. I’m always happy when I hear someone purposefully manipulating their own mindset in a helpful direction like this.


    • Gigi said:

      Thanks for your post Jen! 🙂

  11. Hi James,
    Recently I started to communicate with someone I meet online who lives in a different state. Right away he asked if I would ever be willing to visit him because he wasn’t driving yet because of a car accident that he was in. I wasn’t sure at that point but we continued to communicate. Then a week or so later he asked if we could meet and so we set up a day when I would drive the 5 hours to see him. He also asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes.

    Now after getting advice from family I decided that it isn’t wise for me to drive by myself to see him. (I should add that my car isn’t the most reliable and I’m not the best at driving in unfamiliar territory.) I told him this and he got upset. Two days later I told him on the phone that we should meet in a neutral place, which would only be an hour from him, where we can hang out and get to know each other face to face. The next day he said he had to cancel things that he had planned for us to do that I would be driving us to.

    Before I told him my change of plans, I was really enjoying talking to him on the phone, texting, and Skyping. Now I’m not sure if this LDR will work out unless I take a huge risk. And right now I see him as a friend whereas he sees me as more. I do like him but I feel like this whole thing (about going to see him) changed things.

    I’m just wondering what advice you could give me that might help me know what to do or could help clarify things.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Jane. The relationship starts when you begin communicating or interacting with someone, but you don’t really know eachother until you spend time face to face. So at this point it would be premature to try to decide anything other than the answer to one question.

      Which is this: Given what I know about him so far, are there reasons to believe it might be worth the effort to meet him in person so I can find out if we might both have an interest in building a relationship that involves more investment in each other?


      • L said:


    • Lena said:

      Dear Jane,

      Let the guy figure our how He can meet you first time. You are just the girl, let him be the man and find the way to come and visit you. I would be agree with your relatives that driving so many hours on your own to meet a person you don’t know and just met online is a Huge risk. Tel him directly, that you don’t feel safe to travel so far to meet him first time. It may be possibility in the future visits, but for the first time you don’t feel it as a good idea. Don’t tell him What to do, just ask “What do you think?” Be the girl and let the man to do the driving to you. If this is not working for him, that the whole relationship would be questionable.

      My best regards,

    • jean said:

      I see red flags here. Agreeing to be a girlfriend before you even meet is rushing it. He doesn’t sound very understanding. You do not know him, to drive that far alone to someone you know nothing about is above acceptable risk level (in my opinion) Spend a few dollars to check him out.

  12. Gigi said:

    Another true story! Thanks for writing this…. Unfortunately I purposely avoided risk today out of fear of rejection… But if I had read this first, I would have gone all in like my inner self was urging me to do!

    • Lena said:


      I remember James said ones something like “don’t let your fear become bigger than you dream”. I think this expression is a continuation of the main idea of the article above. Life is going on, next time you may let you dream be bigger than the fear of rejection.
      Wish you the best,

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