Why taking a risk matters—win or lose

It’s interesting. I just got back from a romance writer’s conference here in Atlanta and was reminded of some of the steps necessary when plotting a story to understand your protagonist’s motivation, and how they’ve changed by the end of the tale. It’s irresistible to think of your own story and motivation when crafting fiction. (It’s that whole unexamined life not worth living thing again.) I find it amazing how detailed and focused we can get in trying to figure out a character’s purpose or goal while, at the same time, blithely sail through life uninterested in figuring out our own. I’ll illustrate this with one antagonizing statement. And bear with me. Remember it was a romance writer’s conference I just got out of and so matters of the heart are on my mind.

The older we get, the less open we are to finding and accepting love.

Wow. Big statement. (I expect LOTS of comments!) If you’re happily ensconced in a loving relationship, you can sit this one out or not as you like. But here’s how I see it.

Remember in the 80’s there was that Time Magazine article that came out and sent millions of single women into vortexes of depression because they pronounced it easier for a woman over 30 to be abducted by aliens than find a husband? Well, with Internet dating and other available matchmaking tools, it is easier today to connect with someone but, statistically, it continues to be a major struggle for people of a certain age to find love.

In terms of actively seeking a mate, statistics show that as we age, we actually fear the companionship and love we think we crave. (We might’ve feared it a little bit when we were younger, but it gets worse as the years add up.) Steeped in habit and afraid of change, the older we get, the less inclined we are to risk getting hurt or disappointed. So, basically, just when we need love and companionship the most, we are more likely to turn away from it. (See how a little self-knowledge would be REAL helpful about now?)

Psychologists have shown that depression can be an offshoot of aging (no shit!) But struggles with loneliness are typically trotted out as a major reason for that.  What’s surprising is the fact that studies show that many older people (we’re talking forties and fifties here) are more comfortable being sad and alone than risking finding and being with someone who they might love or who might love them back. Like a lot of things, it’s easier to do nothing and take solace in the familiarity of your own depression than get off your ass, wash your face and “put yourself out there.”

You can say that life itself is a gamble and that’s undeniably true but nowhere is the gamble bigger than where it concerns the heart. Love is risky—no matter what age you are. (That’s why it makes such good fiction!) While the rewards are great, even if just temporary, the downside of a misguided or ill-matched romance is pain and even worse loneliness.

But, heavens, not even trying is just wrong.

10 thoughts on “Why taking a risk matters—win or lose

  1. You might as well have been writing directly to me, lol. My question is where do I go to “put myself out there”? The things I enjoy are populated by a much younger crowd and so far, the idea of dating (gasp, falling in love with!) someone more than five years younger than me freaks me out.

    Great post. I appreciate the insight :-).

  2. Well my future hubby and me are the opposite (how long can you try out to write opposite right????? 😉 ) example entirely: He was 49 I was 40 when we met (at work of course lol) and now at 42 and 51 we even take the plunge :-).
    We both had our problems to take the risk but we did for reasons none of us understand fully. But who cares 🙂 we are happy and therefore the message for you ladies out there: it is possible!
    (I will probably never write about our love story though because it is so riddled with cliches it would be embarrassing 😉 )
    Thanks for this post!

  3. On one hand, I thing as the years pass, we become so set in our ways, the compromise needed for a successful relationship/marriage is increasingly difficult. On the other, we are also more secure and know ourselves much better. Bottom line: it depends upon the two individuals.

  4. Love and risk, risk and life, life and love, now or then or when?
    The time is now, to write, to risk, to love.
    Why? Because now is all there is.
    Yesterday is long gone and tomorrows knock on the door, if it comes at all, could open to darkness or light, day or night.
    You say you’re not going to write today because you’re to young, to old, not wise enough, smart enough, or you’re afraid of tomorrows sunrise and waking to the realization that people might love the words you’ve written.
    Scary, but only possible if you’ve actually taken the time to write the first sentence and the one after that.
    It’s the same with love.
    It ain’t gunna happen until you open the door and walk outside.
    So open the door.
    Take that step.
    Be you.
    Sooner or later somebody will come by looking for nobody else but you.
    Your book ain’t gunna sell until you’ve taken the risk and put it on the shelf, or if your cover promises something not found in the book.
    Love and book sales depend on showing up and being honest about what’s inside.
    So take the risk, open the door, life is waiting just for you.

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