How Emotional Risk-Taking Can Lead to Better Relationships - Dr. Tammy Nelson

How Emotional Risk-Taking Can Lead to Better Relationships

I clicked on my email and opened the 30 Second Newsletter. I don’t have much time so it helps me to catch up on the important things. I found the following gem about setting slightly terrifying goals in order to be successful. It occurred to me that there is a relationship between risk-taking and, well, successful relationships.


Slightly terrifying goals

How Emotional Risk-Taking Can Lead to Better Relationships - Dr. Tammy Nelson

“You should only be 60% sure you are going to achieve your goal. It should make you sweat a little when you think about it. According to a study published online in the Journal of Consumer Research, being more ambitious actually makes you happier. Those who set high goals are more satisfied than their counterparts with lower expectations. University of California-Riverside professor Cecile K. Cho had one group of research participants pick stocks and set a high target rate of return. They were told they could set a rate between 6% and 20%. The low goal setters were not nearly as happy with their winnings AND were more disappointed by their losses. Big goal setters were more happy with their winnings AND less disappointed by their losses. When we set big goals, we get big rewards. Even if we lose, we feel like we gave it our best try, which is fulfilling in a different way. Learn more from Think Like a Leader by Vanessa van Edwards.”


The more you risk, the better the (potential) reward

How Emotional Risk-Taking Can Lead to Better Relationships - Dr. Tammy Nelson

In relationships, couples who are more willing to take risks often enjoy much more intimate connections. Risks like sharing fantasies or talking about feelings can actually create more intimacy and improve your sex life. Sharing emotions can be scary for some people, for others it can be difficult to talk about money, and if you are an introvert, it can be hard to tell your partner where you want to go for dinner.

When you take these risks, you’re taking a chance and exposing your vulnerabilities. Exposing your softer side might mean sharing with your partner how nervous you feel talking about this difficult stuff. This can motivate your partner to feel more compassion and empathy for you and less disappointed in your relationship.

Exposing your vulnerabilities shows trust. It’s an honor to be trusted. Your partner might go the extra mile and honor you by not betraying your trust.

They may also feel more comfortable opening up and trusting you in return.

With each display of trust, the intimacy between you deepens. You may get to a point where you truly and completely feel loved and secure in your relationship.


Creating a safe container for emotional risk-taking

How Emotional Risk-Taking Can Lead to Better Relationships - Dr. Tammy Nelson

When both partners can create a safe container for the other to expose their vulnerabilities, both benefit by a deepened sense of intimacy and commitment.

The way to create a safe container is to practice nonjudgmental listening. Convey to your partner your honest curiosity about what they want or need to share. Then just listen – without interrupting, without overreacting, without interpreting, without changing the subject, without making it about you.

Some examples of non-judgmental, compassionate, and validating responses to someone’s nervous sharing include:

“It makes sense why you’d feel that way…”

“I can only imagine how hard this is for you to share…”

“Thank you for trusting me with this…”

“I’m honored by your trust in me. What do you need now?”


Slightly terrifying emotional risks

How Emotional Risk-Taking Can Lead to Better Relationships - Dr. Tammy Nelson

The bigger investment risk-takers in the study mentioned above enjoyed their winnings more and mourned their losses less than their more conservative peers.

People in relationships who take greater emotional risks often enjoy a closer bond with their partner and feel more confident in all of their relationships.

Sheltering yourself from disappointment will only make it more likely that you will also miss out on the unique and fragile moments of joy between you. If you overprotect your heart, you risk shielding it not only from the lows, but also the highs. If you expose your heart, chances are good that your partner will expose theirs and you may grow stronger together.

Have you ever regretted NOT taking an emotional risk?

Have you ever been rewarded for taking an emotional risk with a partner?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Responses

  1. […] the face. Which one would encourage you to be more vulnerable? Trusting your partner helps you to take the leap to open yourself […]

  2. Upwealthy
    | Reply

    Very helpful and important article. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Upwealthy
    | Reply

    Risk taking is good, but you should choose the right risk. You should study the consequences first and then take the risk. Thanks for sharing.

    • Clint N.
      | Reply

      Yes you’re right. Choosing when and what to risk is essential for the relationship to work out. Great article!

  4. Upwealthy
    | Reply

    It is very important to be self confident and love yourself. This article tells us how emotional risk taking can enhace the relationship. Thanks for sharing this article.

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