Don’t Take a Chance on Love

Wednesday, Apr. 20th 2011 11:49 AM

Are you hesitant to get into a relationship because you’re afraid to take a chance on love?

As I drove my daughter to her babysitter’s house this morning, the song “Papers” by Usher came on the radio. In it, he sings about getting divorced from an unhappy marriage and laments that he “took a chance on love.” Hearing that phrase made me chuckle a bit, because, as is true of most clichés, it’s not really accurate. We do not take a chance on love; the love part happens over time. Instead, the chance we take is on commitment, security and permanence. It may sound as though I’m engaging in pointless wordplay here, but the distinction is important, because the fear associated with taking this risk can keep us from loving, and from enjoying the gifts and happiness that others could bring into our lives.

When we say that we are taking a chance on love, we are saying that we are gambling with the hope that a relationship will be worthwhile. But a relationship can be worthwhile if it lasts one day, one hour or one decade. It does not take any risk to enjoy being with someone with whom you feel connected. All it takes is time, and when the relationship stops working (i.e., making you happy), you stop investing time into it. That’s not really a gamble.

It is when we are looking for a lifetime commitment (and the feeling of security that goes with it) that relationships begin to feel like a risk. And in this sense, they are. Based on natural law, which says that everything (and everyone) changes, and the divorce rate, which says that at least half of all marriages end in divorce, there is no guarantee of permanence in relationships. This is not to say that people should stop striving for a lifelong love if that is want they want (and the fact that most people get married with that hope, at some point, says that many of us want just that). But if we are honest with ourselves, we know there is never a 100-percent guarantee that both partners will continue to want that relationship long term.

I love my relationship, but I never took a chance on it. I chose to spend time with my mate because I enjoyed doing so, and the love, familiarity and friendship that we share grew over time. But while I have no intention of ever leaving her, my heart could change some day, and so could hers. So, neither of us has ever promised the other “forever.” If the relationship stops being worthwhile to me, I will leave it. And she, too, may take a walk any day and for any reason. That is OK with me. I am a big boy and I love her enough to want her to do what makes her happy, instead of shoring up my hopes of security at her expense.

Love, in its many shapes and forms, can be rewarding for so many different reasons. When we get into “committed” relationships, it is only permanence that we are risking, not love. The love part happens on its own and requires nothing from the people involved except that they feel it. The only reason things get risky (and therefore scary) is because of expectations around permanence. If you open yourself up to a relationship, you will experience joy and you may also experience pain. But if you aren’t expecting permanence, the pain will be minimal. And if you are hoping for it, that’s OK too. Just don’t hold it against love if it doesn’t work out. Understanding this distinction will help you become a more Powerful Person in a Partnership.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

19 Comments on “Don’t Take a Chance on Love”

  1. Martha Says:

    My Dear Frank Love,
    You are a trip! Stop always thinking like a man! Put your female, girlfriend, wife hat on sometimes, and then start writing. In other words, “Flip the Script” every now and then! You are sending out a bad message here. The insecure women reading this are going to be even more insecure and mentally jacked up! Accepting any and every situation! Don’t do it ladies! Either they’re in forever or they’re not!
    (Men!…You can’t live with them, and you can’t kill them! ha ha ha)


  2. Diallo Says:

    Another good blog…Unlike Martha I wouldn’t say you’re thinking like a man but i’d love to see you put your “female, girlfriend, wife hat on sometimes and then start writing” – that would be worth it…to see you make an honest attempt at thinking like a woman..hahahahahaha.

    Really, this is a good one too…those of us who have sustained long term relationships or have enough experience to be enlightened enough about relationships to understand how what we say effect what we do, how we live and who are would agree with your perspective here…I’m sure some of those people are women.

  3. LaJaniese Says:

    I am one of those women who agrees with the blog. (Good post by the way). I am learning to release the attachment to relationships. To enjoy them and be in the moment. It is through this that I am able to sustain the longevity of them. I am not the same person I was a year ago and am continuing to change, to grow everyday. The same applies to my partner. It does me no good to continue to be in a committed relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be in one with me.

  4. Sheree Says:

    Unfortunately many men and women are afraid to really let themselves open up and be vulnerable to love. They will do anything to avoid emotionally attaching to anyone and will always find fault. If you look you will always find a reason to run. Bt if you take the leap and focus on the positives wonderful relationships can develop.

  5. Dr. Linda Gadbois Says:

    This is a common dilemma for many. The very thing they want most, they fear most? And, of course the attitude we have when going into something determines the nature of our experience. We become sensitive to it, and notice anything that we can use to make it about that.

    This is very common with older people (35 and on . . . ) that have had a few bad experiences and so they become gun-shy. Yet, we have to stay open and be willing to take risks, otherwise we don’t stand a chance.

  6. Ryan Says:

    I had a bad experience when I was just a teen, getting dumped at the middle school prom. It affected me through my high school years and kept me from taking the risks.

    However, looking back, I should have known that waiting for “the one” would not help me grow as a person. I could have best prepared for her by gaining experiences through having other girlfriends in the meantime as I grew up. Through those relationships I could learn what I like in a woman and what women want from me, all the time getting a better feel for who I might see as the one.

    It took divine intervention, but I found her eventually. Nine years and counting! She is truly a gift from God and I thank Him for every day.

  7. Donald G. Says:

    I agree. I have a client who says she has been “taking care of herself” (her words) since she was an infant. Part of her desperately wants the intimacy of partnership, but another part of her is deathly afraid of being hurt. I think we all naturally try to protect ourselves from unpleasant experiences. Unfortunately, many of us, like my client, are so afraid of being hurt (abandoned, used, disappointed, rejected, etc.) that we also avoid dating altogether or somehow sabotage our chances for truly loving relationships. Whether it’s a leap or a baby step, healing comes through facing the fear and reconnecting with your inner truth.

  8. Stephen R. Says:

    There is no word play here, “the chance we take is on commitment, security and permanence.” The unfortunate and elusive qualities make the ‘chance’ hard to do though. Commitment interestingly enough is a moment by moment choice. We can do that. Security is something that we need to develop of sense of. I couldn’t say that loud enough. There is no security, it is a myth. the “sense” of security is so important that you need to hang everything you have on it with the understanding that what is secure is your place in life. If you want to play with those words, even death is a part of life. Develop your since of security. Permanence, I don’t have to tell you about that. There is no permanence lest we be talking about love in an unconditional way.

    Remember the 3 P’s. things in life are not personal, pervasive or permanent. Love like you have no sense, and surround yourself with some really great people. The only flippant err about love is that you will be wounded, and you need to choose innocence again, and you will be wounded, and choose again and again and again. You will be choosing life itself. As you grow and become less neurotic, you will be love, and ironically you will be permanent, pervasive and personal.

    If you think that isn’t spot on I want to hear your thoughts.

    With Love, great love.

    Frank, thanks for the great thought and putting yourself out there.

  9. DANIEL M. Says:

    It NEVER pays off; even in an equality basis. It is an all give & no get situation!!!

  10. vanessa h. Says:

    I so enjoy reading what you write! Thank you.

  11. Barbara S. Says:

    Frank, That’s quit a different, perhaps updated, view you have on love. I cannot conclude that what you say is not correct. The falling in love part seems easy compared to the “permanence” part. To me, there is no better feeling than being in love, but I believe I am hesitant to get into a relationship because I’m afraid to take a chance on love … or as you explain, take a chance on permanence in a relationship. There is nothing I would want more than to have a permanent partner for life, but that appears to be the “Impossible Dream” for me. If I could find a male clone of myself, I would jump at the chance because I know that I could never cheat on a spouse or significant other. I think cheating on a spouse is one of the most selfish things anyone could do, and I’m NOT selfish enough to do that. Why? Because I always take into consideration how my actions could affect other loved ones I care about. I could never intentionally do anything to hurt anyone I love. I think true love is all about commitment and the reason marriages do not last is because people have false expectations of being happy all the time. Life is not like that. Everyone has problems sometimes. We must be able to see beyond the difficult times to make it to more of the wonderful times. No one person will ever be able to make us happy all the time. We must make ourselves happy. Happiness comes from within. If we cannot make ourselves happy, how could we expect anyone else to do it? I’ve had two marriages — one lasted 12 years and one lasted 10 years. Both times my partner ended up cheating, so I think it’s really difficult to find any permanence in a relationship. If I could find a partner who feels the same way as I do about a lifetime commitment and permanence … someone with a willingness to work through the difficult times (which everyone has), I would take a chance on love again. But to be very honest, I no longer believe I could ever find such a man, so I stopped looking.

    My greatest disappointment in life is that I do not believe I have ever found true love because true love does not go away. I believe both times I was married, the man in my life did NOT really know how to love anyone but himself.

  12. Dawn Davidson Says:

    Hey Frank–
    Great post. Thanks for your thoughts about how the expectation of permanence is one of the biggest contributors to pain in relationship, not the love itself. I’m very much in agreement on that point.

    In case you’re interested, I’ve written about relationship endings and what constitutes a “successful” relationship in my own journal, in the entry called “The end is the beginning”:

    Best wishes for love, no matter what form it takes, or however long it lasts!


  13. Bill H. Says:

    I ‘think’ I want to ‘fling’ and then ‘re fling’ and ‘re fling’ again and again. This whole ‘love’ thing sounds like I’m to be ready for an earthquake/tsunami or a Katrina! That part of life on Earth to too hard! I’m gunna redesign my DNA.

  14. Amadoma Says:

    I’ve loved and lost to CANCER, DIVORCE and HEART ATTACK and I’ll NEVER stop LOVING!!! The only thing constant in life is change and I am the only one who I’m guaranteed to be in a permanent relationship with. If this is thinking like a man, so be it. I have learned that love may be risky but not as risky as withholding love.

  15. Liza T. Says:

    nah ~ love & a loving relationship are easy!
    “Breaking up is hard to do”…:)

  16. Antoinette Acosta Says:

    When is it truly defined as being love? when I know that circumstance may change the type of love given, or a personality can alter love’s qualities because of imperfections in that person’s ability to express it. Is love self created, or is it unconsciously realized? Does our inner most being find traits in our significant other , in which we lack — or do we love because we are passionately drawn from us actually liking the other person, or just the way they make us feel ?

  17. sameer Says:

    love and loving relationships are easy but difficult to manage them…

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