The kind to charge in when something scares you? Or the kind to back away from risky situations?
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess. You’re BOTH.
Most of us are. There are times when we embrace risk, and times when we run from it.
My friend, Kendra, is a great example. She was insanely courageous when her mom was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. At a time when most would freak out, she rose to the challenge, supporting her mom with fierce strength. To this day, she still runs races to raise money for research.
But the very same friend panicked when her boyfriend started talking about the future. Marriage, kids, and buying a home – they all seemed like such big steps! She spent weeks avoiding those topics because she just couldn’t handle them.
Not an ideal response.
Running from something that scares you isn’t a great strategy. I’ll give you one reason that may surprise you.
Embracing risk makes you smarter.[i]
When you tackle an uncertain situation, it forces you to learn. You learn things you would’ve missed if you waited anxiously, trying to figure out the right answer before actually diving in.
When you tackle something risky in your relationship, the only way to reduce uncertainty is to increase your “relational intelligence.”
What’s relational intelligence? It’s the kind of wisdom and insight you use to make your relationships stronger.
Embracing risk improves your relational intelligence. Let me show you how.
Increasing your relational intelligence isn’t complicated. You just have to be willing to do a few things that sound intimidating. Here are the three steps…
- Have the conversation you’re afraid of having.
Is there a conversation you keep having with him in your head? A topic you’ve been rehearsing that you’re afraid to actually discuss?
That’s probably a conversation you NEED to have.
Whether it’s about the future, or meeting family, or life goals, tackling difficult topics with your man makes you stronger as an individual and stronger as a couple.
Avoiding them just creates relationship gaps.
- Make the change you’re afraid of making.
If something in the relationship isn’t working for you, you probably already know it. But does he?
You’d be surprised how often people silently endure relationship frustrations that just don’t work for them. I’m talking about stuff like balancing how much time you spend together, what kind of activities you do on dates, how the two of you handle conflict, and even how often intimacy happens.
Trying to change any of those things can be sticky. What if he’s not receptive?
The only way to boost your relational intelligence is to address the stuff that needs to change. Don’t be pushy, but tell him when something doesn’t work for you.
- Share the emotion you’re afraid of sharing.
Are there times when you feel strongly about something, but you hesitate to share that emotion with him?
That can be anything from how a movie tugged on your heartstrings to how worried you are about your aging parents. Big or small, your feelings matter. It’s important to share your emotions.
If you’re not doing that with your partner, that’s a bad sign. Couples who can’t talk about their feelings typically aren’t very close.
Engaging in heart-to-heart conversations, on the other hand, is a sure-fire way to improve your relational intelligence.
All three of the above suggestions are risky. There’s a chance he won’t react the way you want him to. That risk keeps a lot of people from moving forward.
But I think you’re up to the challenge.
Take some worthwhile risks in your relationship. Open your arms wide and embrace the new insights that risk can bring. Even if you run into the occasional hurdle, you’ll come out the other side with deeper understanding.
That’s how you improve your relational intelligence.
[i] Ledbetter, N. M., C. D. Chen, and I. E. Monosov. “Multiple Mechanisms for Processing Reward Uncertainty in the Primate Basal Forebrain.” Journal of Neuroscience 36.30 (2016): 7852-864. Web.