Confidence vs risk taking n dating

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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 10:42 am

Based on a random comment on Prime about how to channel fear of approaching, I started pondering something that seems to get left out of dating advice: where people fall on the risk taking-risk avoidance scale. My guess is that people tend to lump those traits under confidence or lack thereof, but that does not seem accurate. For example, I have always been a risk taker, but confidence came to me in my late 30s, so the two things are independent. Being a risk taker can be mistaken for confidence, though, because you just do shit, consequences be damned, but you are not doing it because you think you will succeed. You do it because there is this adrenaline rush from the fear. Confidence has nothing to do with it.

So I came up with a hypothesis and (because I am a giant nerd and cannot do yoga or jog until I recover, so I am bored) I designed a mini experiment on my friends. I sent them the RT-18 survey and asked them to take it. I selected 76 people about whom I know enough to know their dating history. It was 34 men and 42 women, raised in the US/Canada/Australia with English as their first and primary language. The group is 60% not white, but only a 1-2 people were the same race/ethnic background, so we cannot look at differences there. Successful in dating/relationships was defined as overall enjoying dating and getting dates/relationships when wanted with relative ease as judged by me (so salt accordingly). Personalities were pretty much evenly mixed between introvert, extrovert and ambivert. I excluded anyone who has ASD because I do not think this scale would be a good measure.

I found that of those who are successful in dating 63% fell on the risk neutral to risk taking side of the scale, with 47% firmly risk taking. In the less successful group, 39% were risk neutral to risk taking and only 18% firmly risk taking.

So, totally not a valid study, but kind of intriguing. Intuitively, if you process fear more as excitement/a rush, it kind of makes sense that dating would be easier. Could risk taking and risk neutrality be another factor that can be boosted if confidence is not happening?
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Post by Enail on Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:45 am

Oh, this is an interesting thought. But how does one boost risk-willingness?  

I'm kind of the opposite of you, Reboot, in that I'm reasonably confident but also rather risk-averse. I tend not to jump into something unless I'm confident I can do it, the consequences for failure are not high for me or I know I can come up with backup plans as needed. So the only ways I've really found to increase my ability/willingness to take risks are by lowering the risk (or my perception of it) and increasing my skill at winging things.
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Post by celette482 on Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:26 pm

I think it depends on what you consider risk. Getting rejected? Or a bad relationship? Or not being able to find a relationship at all (which is different than getting rejected)

I'm super risk-averse, so when I decided that i wanted to start dating to get a relationship, I took control over the situation. Like, really up-front, no-apologies, this is what I'm looking for and either you fit or you get out of the way. Which is a... strategy. A rather strange strategy.
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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:43 pm

I think there has to be a way to push towards more risk neutral territory, since extreme risk aversion hampers life as much as extreme risk taking. I just only know one side of the equation because I ping so hard that way.

My guess is "risk" is anything that kicks up  your fear when you think about taking an action (or for the risk takers when you take the action since we do not think much in advance). If you are a risk taker, that fear feels more like excitement or a hit of coke/speed or 10 espresso shots. It is energizing. I guess if you are neutral, it does not really make you feel very good or bad and if you are risk avoidant it makes you feel bad??

Please note that I am just hypothesizing here. I have no clue how to define any of this.
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:24 pm

This is fascinating.

I haven't taken an assessment, but from your descriptions, I would have to say I'm on the risk-taking side of things (although less now that I'm older than when I was in my teens and 20s). I do tend to think things over before taking action, but it still feels like a jolt of speed/ten espresso shots, like a body full of jittery excitement.

I first remember seeking that sensation as a little kid, doing things like jumping off the swings or coasting on my bike down a big hill and putting my feet up on the handlebars or sledding down the steepest run. When I hit puberty, I started seeking the thrill through interpersonal things, like calling a boy I had a crush on or taking a speech class when I was knee-knockingly terrified of public speaking or taking a trip alone as soon as my parents would let me (this in the days before cell phones, folks, so much more alone than in today's world).

But I just always assumed that anyone getting an adrenaline rush was feeling roughly the same sensations. The jitteryness, the heart pounding, light-headed, like every cell of the body is completely awake. I thought that was what adrenaline did. But does this mean that other people aren't feeling the same sensations? Or that they feel the sensations but find them unpleasant rather than exciting?
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Post by Enail on Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:51 pm

I find an adrenaline rush mostly unpleasant. I have a very strong flight-or-fight reflex (heavy on the fight side) for physical things or anything fast-paced or even competition sometimes, so I've probably spent more time in adrenaline state than most people who live similarly unthreatening lives, and there is a quality of powerful-feeling that is sort of enjoyable, but overall it's just too intense a feeling. It's exhausting and overwhelming and I dislike the loss of conscious control over my actions. I think the fact that I jump into full-on adrenaline state so easily makes it more unpleasant than it would otherwise be because it's often disproportionate to the situation.
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Post by Guest on Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:58 pm

Enail wrote:Oh, this is an interesting thought. But how does one boost risk-willingness?  

I'm kind of the opposite of you, Reboot, in that I'm reasonably confident but also rather risk-averse. I tend not to jump into something unless I'm confident I can do it, the consequences for failure are not high for me or I know I can come up with backup plans as needed. So the only ways I've really found to increase my ability/willingness to take risks are by lowering the risk (or my perception of it) and increasing my skill at winging things.

Oh dude, you and I are on the same page here.

Although... maybe I could take a page from the book of Hank Hill:
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jul 22, 2015 5:45 pm

That particular study defined risk taking as "intentional or unintentional exposure to the possibility of injury or loss". I haven't taken the test but think I would probably qualify as a "risk taker" by the provided definition even though whether I or my own body likes that is another thing entirely. (I am assuming "possibility of loss" includes repeatedly putting myself into long-term situations where if I make too many wrong moves or even just get unlucky I'll just go utterly broke.)

After a decade or so of that, it's looking like the most physically healthy thing for me to do right now is to stop taking those kinds of risks. Pre-hypertension has now turned into hypertension, so I'm supposed to prioritize fixing that, I guess.

Talking to people tends to (doesn't always, but tends to) set off anxieties, and anxieties tend to (not always) set off reactions in my digestive system. ("Important" cross-country meets gave me the same symptoms in high school that "important" professional meetings do now, so I figure it's anxiety or something like it playing middleman there). I assume the anxiety itself has something to do with perceived "risk" on something, but in case it still needs to be said, I don't enjoy that "rush".

The actual interaction with other people is usually more or less fine while it's happening; much of that interaction is automatic. The uncomfortable feelings generally come in before and after the interaction. (When it comes to having to initiate in OLD, there is no "during", so the entire thing is just awkward.) I've technically had a total of two dates "scheduled" (both were no-shows, and I never got any explanations), and in both cases I found myself stuck in a bathroom until I was almost late (but was able to sprint to my bus to get there almost exactly on time).

As a separate thing, I also sometimes find that being out in public with a large group of people but nothing to focus on (e.g. riding a train by myself, without fiddling on my phone) makes me feel dizzy and slow-witted. Not sure why, or whether that too is associated with some form of "risk", but that's also kind of a factor when it comes to trying to interact with strangers.
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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 5:55 pm

NT, just to make sure that I am understanding you, the adrenaline kick of taking a risk is enjoyable to you, but your body does not handle it well? Or is it that you take the risks, do not feel the "Yippee!" of fear, and your body pays for it?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:18 pm

The latter, I...think? Mentally, I feel kind of ambivalent about risk-taking; I do the analysis, like everyone's favorite Science Officer, and then talk myself into (or out of) the activity. Sometimes, as in the case of making a new friend of someone I have a favorable opinion of, the potential "reward" weighs very heavily against the "risk" of all the discomfort I am about to experience up to initiating the interaction. I might also decide that my fear of heights (which is relatively weak) is less important than having an otherwise fun and healthy activity to do with an old friend, or that what another friend thinks of me is less important than my discomfort around substance abuse....

Once I've decided to do it, though, I have a literal gut reaction to the period of anticipation before the thing actually happens. There may be some mind-over-matter stuff I could do about that (based on my hypothesis that the mental anticipation/anxiety is fueling a feedback loop and self-fulfilling prophecy), but it's not something I have direct control over and for the most part I just implicitly accept that it's going to be part of my day once I've committed to doing something "risky".
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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:53 pm

Caffeinated wrote:This is fascinating.

I haven't taken an assessment, but from your descriptions, I would have to say I'm on the risk-taking side of things (although less now that I'm older than when I was in my teens and 20s). I do tend to think things over before taking action, but it still feels like a jolt of speed/ten espresso shots, like a body full of jittery excitement.

I first remember seeking that sensation as a little kid, doing things like jumping off the swings or coasting on my bike down a big hill and putting my feet up on the handlebars or sledding down the steepest run. When I hit puberty, I started seeking the thrill through interpersonal things, like calling a boy I had a crush on or taking a speech class when I was knee-knockingly terrified of public speaking or taking a trip alone as soon as my parents would let me (this in the days before cell phones, folks, so much more alone than in today's world).

But I just always assumed that anyone getting an adrenaline rush was feeling roughly the same sensations. The jitteryness, the heart pounding, light-headed, like every cell of the body is completely awake. I thought that was what adrenaline did. But does this mean that other people aren't feeling the same sensations? Or that they feel the sensations but find them unpleasant rather than exciting?

Yay! Another risk taker. I was just like you and thought everyone got that fear high for the longest time, but it seems like a lot of people do not get that awesome rush that comes from doing what you are afraid of. Even if it ends in complete disaster, that rush is sufficient pay off for you and I, but does not seem to be for others.

@Nearly_takuan

Huh, you sound more risk neutral to risk averse since you think about things before doing them, have some physical reactions (other than an adrenaline high) to taking risks, and do not get the "Yippee!" feeling, but push yourself to take risks anyway. Risk takers tend not to think so much about the reward since (as I mentioned above) the rush from doing what scares you is the reward. Anything else is just a bonus.
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Post by Enail on Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:00 pm

Oh, risk-averse means they actually have to not do the thing for the reward? I think that means I'm more risk-neutral? That's what I get for not reading the link.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:04 pm

Ah, I see. I had been going by "I have a history of intentionally exposing myself to the possibility of financial loss, and frequently do things that involve a possibility of physical injury even when alternatives are possible." Less of a state-of-mind thing (where I would agree I am risk-averse) and more of a "I am one who takes risks, therefore risk taker" kind of deal.

I do find that when an opportunity to be spontaneous/impulsive presents itself, I do better (at least in terms of anxiety), because I skip past the yucky anticipation stage and am just already doing the thing I have to do. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of going in blind and usually have to premeditate and rationalize if there's any time allowed for it. :/ Stuff is complicated.
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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:28 pm

Enail wrote:Oh, risk-averse means they actually have to not do the thing for the reward? I think that means I'm more risk-neutral? That's what I get for not reading the link.

I think it is a combo thing of not thinking about the consequences, having an adrenaline "Yippee!" kick, and being outcome independent. Sort of doing things just to do them and because it scares you.

Caffeinated had a great example of doing a speech class just for that fear thrill, since she was afraid of public speaking. Or an example from my life was being afraid of approaching men I was attracted to. Most of what drove me to do it was not the expectation that they would be attracted back. It was that rush I got from the approach which was so strong that even really nasty rejections did not matter because I was on an adrenaline/endorphin high.
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Post by Enail on Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:37 pm

Whether I am risk neutral or risk-averse, I am definitely not risk-taking, then! Razz
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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:09 pm

Which makes me think that confidence is one factor influencing dating success and risk taking-risk neutrality another. It seems like people might need both to be highly successful socially and at least one or the other to some degree for moderate to some success. The lack of either seems to be a handicap because without confidence or some degree of risk taking-risk neutrality, attempting to meet people or make yourself vulnerable by revealing your interest seems like it would freeze you in place. You need to either enjoy or be neutral to the risk you are taking OR be confident (as in believing you can do something well or succeed at something).
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Post by readertorider on Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:27 pm

I don't know. For me the happy adrenaline comes when I don't feel any fear/risk--roller coasters, cantering on a horse, presenting a project I know inside and out to a group of accomplished old men, kayaking down a set of not too dangerous rapids--challenges I know I can meet. Things like gorge jumping, or driving in cities, or making dramatic career decisions, or recreational drugs, where my mind isn't on board with the risks, usually aren't appealing. There's definitely a sweet spot where my body is happy with the sensations and my mind is satisfied with the degree of apparent risk Shrug

For dating though, could there be some situational element to what you observe with your friends? The whole suspension bridge experiment where people who are experiencing a danger arousal are more likely to rate others of the opposite sex as more attractive could be playing a part in your friends' romantic success--risk takers are more likely to be in situations where both parties are feeling that happy adrenaline and therefore finding eachother more attractive?
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Post by reboot on Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:54 pm

My friends took the survey recently. Their dating success or lack thereof spans the years I have known them (6-35 years). I judged it on an aggregate of lifetime success for the lifespan we have known each other so the situations were all over the place, from the mundane to the exciting. It was not a single situation. Although obviously the risk takers were more likely to get in kind of wild situations in the first place....
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Post by Guest on Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:49 pm

This... thread, caught my attention.
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Post by Perlandra on Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:46 am

Enail wrote:Oh, this is an interesting thought. But how does one boost risk-willingness?
I don't know how helpful it will be to you, but for me, a big part of it was just diving in and doing it, even though I was nervous! I try to keep finding little ways to push myself, and try to surround myself with people who are supportive and make the risks feel less risky!

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Post by Enail on Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:36 am

Oh, I'm not really asking for me personally, just as part of the general discussion topic! But I agree, supportive people do really help make risks feel less risky! I also find taking the risk in stages, if possible, works well for me (eg. if it's something I find a little scary to do itself and I also fear being embarrassed or something like that, I'll do as much of it as I can and get comfortable with that before doing it in front of other people)
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Post by rj3 on Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:56 pm

Perlandra wrote:
Enail wrote:Oh, this is an interesting thought. But how does one boost risk-willingness?
I don't know how helpful it will be to you, but for me, a big part of it was just diving in and doing it, even though I was nervous!  I try to keep finding little ways to push myself, and try to surround myself with people who are supportive and make the risks feel less risky!

Maybe you don't need to boost risk-willingness, but instead reduce risk.

I spent years doing the "normal" dating thing, in which I organically met friends of friends, people in social groups/school/activities of various sorts. The approach was pure hell because I didn't want word going around that I was some lame idiot who thought he was good enough for XYZ, or something like that. Pure jerkbrain.  On occasion, I did get over the fear (thanks, booze!) or I was the one who got approached (thanks, someone else's booze!) it was still a problem. I never really opened up about some of the things I wanted in a relationship, especially sexually, because I didn't want the gossip in case she thought it was gross. I felt like if there was a connection between the person I wanted to date or was dating and anyone else in my social circle, there was a constant risk of exposure, embarrassment or emotional blackmail.

Then online dating came along. These were complete strangers, friends far removed from my own. If I didn't get an answer, I risked nothing and got nothing. If I did, I risked nothing and got something. Yahtzee!  In either case, the whole thing felt risk free. It's funny how the same emotional distance that can allow some people to be so horrible to others online made it easier for me to connect in real life!

Also, I have the added advantage of being in a big city. If I had a terrible date, it was a safe bet that I'd never have to see that person again. No risk!

You can still have savings bond levels of risk aversion and a satisfying dating life if you just enumerate the risk (in my case, embarrassment) and eliminate it!

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Post by Guest on Thu Jul 23, 2015 5:50 pm

rj3 wrote:
Perlandra wrote:
Enail wrote:Oh, this is an interesting thought. But how does one boost risk-willingness?
I don't know how helpful it will be to you, but for me, a big part of it was just diving in and doing it, even though I was nervous!  I try to keep finding little ways to push myself, and try to surround myself with people who are supportive and make the risks feel less risky!

Maybe you don't need to boost risk-willingness, but instead reduce risk.

I spent years doing the "normal" dating thing, in which I organically met friends of friends, people in social groups/school/activities of various sorts. The approach was pure hell because I didn't want word going around that I was some lame idiot who thought he was good enough for XYZ, or something like that. Pure jerkbrain.  On occasion, I did get over the fear (thanks, booze!) or I was the one who got approached (thanks, someone else's booze!) it was still a problem. I never really opened up about some of the things I wanted in a relationship, especially sexually, because I didn't want the gossip in case she thought it was gross. I felt like if there was a connection between the person I wanted to date or was dating and anyone else in my social circle, there was a constant risk of exposure, embarrassment or emotional blackmail.

Then online dating came along. These were complete strangers, friends far removed from my own. If I didn't get an answer, I risked nothing and got nothing. If I did, I risked nothing and got something. Yahtzee!  In either case, the whole thing felt risk free. It's funny how the same emotional distance that can allow some people to be so horrible to others online made it easier for me to connect in real life!

Also, I have the added advantage of being in a big city. If I had a terrible date, it was a safe bet that I'd never have to see that person again. No risk!

You can still have savings bond levels of risk aversion and a satisfying dating life if you just enumerate the risk (in my case, embarrassment) and eliminate it!
Reduce risk?..... in my case that would be fleeing the west coast of PR, burn the bridge, never go back and start anew in San Juan, it is more... smarter than the west coast, i.e. strict toxic macho gender roles are less common in the capital, being a lot more open minded and liberal compared to the rest of the island. The downside is that SJ (along with the northwestern city of Aguadilla and the southern city of Ponce) is a major transportation and trade hub, including underground drug trade, resulting in a higher crime and incarceration rate (Thanks, Drug War for ruining the Island! :grrr:) which I have to consider before moving there...

Also, I've got to get this demon called depression out of my head, it is affecting me both physically and mentally, to the point I rarely interact with anyone, while I still worry about how long therapy will take before I see results, I am hoping to find someone supportive to encourage me to keep marching on. while I have you guys, a face to face interaction with a person would be a lot more beneficial, for that I have to go out and meet people... maybe that's why online dating is not working for me... anyway I have a better chance of happiness and success in SJ than here in the west coast.

oh, and please do not mention booze, 1 full glass of Bacardi Gold + 6 shots of said Bacardi +3 Heinekens = one hell of night (Not fun... Disapproving )

P.S. I am having problems with the forum page. Where can I ask for assistance?

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Post by rj3 on Thu Jul 23, 2015 5:58 pm

Alex1989 wrote:
Reduce risk?..... in my case that would be fleeing the west coast of PR, burn the bridge, never go back and start anew in San Juan, it is more... smarter than the west coast, i.e. strict toxic macho gender roles are less common in the capital, being a lot more open minded and liberal compared to the rest of the island. The downside is that SJ (along with the northwestern city of Aguadilla and the southern city of Ponce) is a major transportation and trade hub, including underground drug trade, resulting in a higher crime and incarceration rate (Thanks, Drug War for ruining the Island! :grrr:)

Also get this demon called depression out of my head, still worrying about the time it will take, but hoping to find someone supportive to help and encourage me to keep marching on to happiness.

Please do not mention booze, 1 full glass of Bacardi Gold + 6 shots of said Bacardi +3 Heinekens = one hell of night (Not fun... Disapproving )

P.S. I am having problems with the forum page. Where can I ask for assistance?

I never said it was a cure-all, just a specific solution to a specific problem I had. I've never been to Puerto Rico, so I can't really offer an opinion as to where you should be living. I also can't evaluate thee cost/benefit of crime risk vs. the benefit of a bigger dating pool and the feeling of a fresh start.

And holy jeebus, that's a lot of rum. My dating chances always improved with a little liquid courage and it's sometimes hard to know when you've had enough, but I'm pretty sure that's less than ideal.

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Post by Guest on Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:20 pm

rj3 wrote:
Alex1989 wrote:
Reduce risk?..... in my case that would be fleeing the west coast of PR, burn the bridge, never go back and start anew in San Juan, it is more... smarter than the west coast, i.e. strict toxic macho gender roles are less common in the capital, being a lot more open minded and liberal compared to the rest of the island. The downside is that SJ (along with the northwestern city of Aguadilla and the southern city of Ponce) is a major transportation and trade hub, including underground drug trade, resulting in a higher crime and incarceration rate (Thanks, Drug War for ruining the Island! :grrr:)

Also get this demon called depression out of my head, still worrying about the time it will take, but hoping to find someone supportive to help and encourage me to keep marching on to happiness.

Please do not mention booze, 1 full glass of Bacardi Gold + 6 shots of said Bacardi +3 Heinekens = one hell of night (Not fun... Disapproving )

P.S. I am having problems with the forum page. Where can I ask for assistance?

I never said it was a cure-all, just a specific solution to a specific problem I had. I've never been to Puerto Rico, so I can't really offer an opinion as to where you should be living. I also can't evaluate thee cost/benefit of crime risk vs. the benefit of a bigger dating pool and the feeling of a fresh start.

And holy jeebus, that's a lot of rum. My dating chances always improved with a little liquid courage and it's sometimes hard to know when you've had enough, but I'm pretty sure that's less than ideal.
I know, but your post just caught my attention and I just wanted to drop my 2 cents.

And yeah, that is a lot of rum, thank goodness it was not at a party just drinking with the guys... although my confidence improves with liquid courage, it's a band-aid to a bigger issue, this has the unintended effect of depending on alcohol for socializing. a dependency that is not good for your health, physical or mental.

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