Leaps of Love
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Leaps of Love

Face your fears and take a chance. You'll find the result is often better than you bargained for.

Make a Move

We all know that moment: You're just about to make the phone call, send the e-mail, introduce yourself to the person across the room. You wince and hesitate -- maybe this isn't such a good idea, maybe you could put it off until tomorrow. But finally, you take a deep breath and say, "Hi, I'm Sara..."

Stress-inducing? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. After all, those little leaps of faith can lead to new friendships, new jobs, new romances. "Of course, the very word 'risk' means there's no guarantee of a payoff," says Judith Sills, PhD, a psychologist and author of The Comfort Trap (Viking, 2004). "But no risks definitely don't pay."

And the great thing about taking small leaps, like striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the plane, is that you get a lot of bang for your buck. "Small risks cost very little, but have a potentially big payoff. You might have a moment of discomfort, but the reward could be a new friendship," says Sills. Here are some little hops into the unknown that could yield big results.

5 Great Leaps

Does your social life need a boost? Or do you want to enhance the relationships you already have? Try these leaps.

  1. Single? Go on a blind date. If you've been out of the dating pool for a while, asking a friend to fix you up can be a nice way to dip your toe in the water. Even if he doesn't become the love of your life, the experience of going on a date -- wearing a cute outfit, sitting in a dark restaurant with a nice man -- can get you back in the game. Plus, he might have friends! "Anything that expands your world is a good thing, so long as it doesn't wear you out. If after eight blind dates you feel a bit jaded and tired, then it's time to take a break," says Sills.
  2. Invite an acquaintance out for coffee. When we were younger, making friends was as easy as saying, "Hey, everyone on the floor's getting pizza. You in?" But once we get to be adults, a kind of shyness sets in. It is scarier, but look at it this way. The worst that can happen is that she'll tell you she's busy. The best is that you're beginning a great new friendship!
  3. Try a costume change -- in the bedroom. Switching from flannel jammies to black silk and lace is definitely a leap worth taking. "The risk is that you'll feel uncomfortable or foolish," says Sills. "But it's a good risk to take because your sex life won't sustain itself -- it needs a little help. So you have to get a little uncomfortable from time to time."
  4. Be the first to say "I was wrong." After an argument with a partner, we tend to value being "right" over anything else. But imagine how much nicer life would be if you skipped the stalemate for once by making the first move and admitting your error. Sills offers one caveat: "Surrendering the need to be right is a very good thing -- unless you're the one who always does that already. Then that's when you want to do the opposite and hold your ground."
  5. Compliment a stranger. Have you ever had someone walk up to you and tell you that you had a fantastic pair of shoes or an adorable child? Remember how great it made you feel? Telling that gal walking toward you that she has a wonderful skirt will make her feel terrific, and that feel-good buzz will rub off on you, too.