2022-01-05

4 minute read

Advice given on January 5, 2022.

Risk (Tolerance) and Relationships

Hey Jay,

I’ve got a relationship problem I am hoping you can help resolve. My partner and I have very different perceptions and tolerances for risk. I know I am fairly risk-averse, but I had no idea my partner was such a risk-seeker. With the pandemic raging on for so long, my partner has been very accepting and cooperative with my requests to be safe, and I appreciate that. But now that it has been almost 2 years, we are both starting to get out and do more things which is where the problems are beginning.

For example, the other night we were sitting on the couch and she was browsing for motorcycles online. When I asked if she was considering getting one, she said ‘yeah, it would be so much fun to ride out on the open road.’ Now, I think motorcycles are cool in theory, but the notion of actually riding one terrifies me. I don’t want to be controlling, but if she were to go out and ride a motorcycle, I’d be sick with worry. What should I do? How can I get over my worries and fears? Or alternatively, how can I convince my girlfriend to not purchase a motorcycle?

Thank you,

Tigger

Tigger,

Well the scenario is pretty clear here, although I think your final question is probably a bit inappropriate. I don’t think you will make any real progress on solving the core of this issue by showing your partner statistics about motorcycle accidents or fatalities. So I would say rule out your last question about changing their mind, I think it will be more productive for you to try and change the way you think. In general, I think it is far easier to change one’s own mind than it is to change the minds of others.

So, how do you get over your own worries and fears? Probably easier said than done. For motorcycling in particular it might be helpful to ride one yourself. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a Ducati and zoom around on the highway. Instead, I would propose looking for and signing up for a beginners class. This way, you will learn about how motorcyclists approach riding and maybe you’ll gain an appreciation for efforts they put into being as safe as possible on the road. Hopefully, this first-hand experience will help with your fears about your partner riding her motorcycle. Now this solution isn’t going to be practical for every worry and fear you have. So I think you also need to engage in some self-reflection and look inward to understand the root cause of your worries and fears. You may want to consider some meditation or even some therapy. Ultimately, I think you also need to separate yourself from your partner, whether this is in the literal sense of breaking up (which may be necessary if you can’t handle your different approaches to risk), or it might be more metaphorical in the sense of separating your individual decisions and autonomy in your mind. The risks your partner chooses to take, and those you choose not to take are part of what make each of you who you are. It might be worth reflecting on that.

All the best,

Jay

Name Games

Dear Jay,

I just moved into a new apartment in a new town where I don’t know very many people. So you can imagine my delight when I ran into a neighbor of mine and we introduced ourselves and made some small talk. Now while I am sure we did introduce each other, I cannot remember this person’s name! Cue awkward encounters in the hallway now as I have to lamely say ‘Hey’ without being able to make my greeting personal. As a result, I don’t feel confident in asking this person to hang out with me and I don’t think we’ll ever become friends. It would be so nice to have a friend in the building and we seemed to really hit if off when we first stopped and spoke to each other. What can I do to fix this situation and make a new friend?

Thanks,

Nameless

Nameless,

This seems like it could be a fairly common problem people have, especially in these kind of casual situations. I think names aside you’ve set yourself a very ambitious goal in befriending a neighbor. Don’t get me wrong, when you click with someone and become friends, that can go very well, and it definitely can happen for neighbors. But I would also say that many people are not going around looking to become friends with their neighbors. Especially in an apartment setting, my assumption when I meet people is that they would prefer having an acquaintance-level of a relationship with their neighbors.

My hesitations about making friends with neighbors aside, let’s dive into the name bit of this question. My suggestion is that you just be honest. The next time you encounter this person in the hallway and you both stop to chat, just admit that you forgot their name and ask them to remind you. I personally can be really bad at remembering names, so I often lead with ‘I’m really bad at remembering names’ and then ask the person to remind me. It is probably also helpful to offer your name again just in-case they’ve forgotten yours and are also a bit shy to ask! I’ve found that when I am asking someone to remind me of their name, I usually provide mine first, this way they are “off the hook” in the event they’d forgotten mine.

Good luck,

Jay