About the Author

Julie Hunt is an assistant professor of social work where she teaches a range of courses. She is married to Dave who leads worship at their church as well as at conferences, camps and churches across the country. They have three children: Asher, Lainey and Lucy. She and her family...

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  1. How weird! My 17 yr old son just confided in me a few days ago how he “plays it safe” with all people (girlfriend, friends, family) and keeps people at arms length to prevent from getting hurt. He doesn’t give himself 100% so there’s nothing to lose when the relationship doesn’t work out. I sadly chuckled and shook my head at the disbelief of my children unknowingly picking up on the very same trait I have

  2. I play it safe, totally. There’s just too much hurt, too much rejection in my past. I don’t find it easy to trust people with myself any more. Actually, it’s been so long that I’m not sure if I even know how to trust people any more.

  3. I’m struggling with this right now. I usually am very trusting in relationships, possibly too trusting. Recent events in my life brought me to a place where I bared my soul, an ugly part of it and my “friends” that I let in used it against me. In not sure I’ll let myself be that transparent again.

  4. I recently have been thinking about all my relationships “in the real world” and how I have difficulty connecting with women and making them into true friends. I tend to stay in the safe zone (very rarely going any deeper than a pond) feeling comfortable with only superficial relationships. I find myself doing this with my relatives as well-even my Mom.
    Recently I feel that God wants me to have deeper, true relationships so that I can share my testimony with others, but I really don’t know how to do it. Does this book have a section on this? I hope so 🙂

  5. Without a doubt I play it safe. Too safe. To the point that, beyond my immediate family, I do not have other relationships. I do not even know how to really have an actual relationship with my family. I see them here and there each week but there is never more than a simple conversation between us. I always retreat and escape to the safety of my place. I don’t have any friends and I am withdrawn at work. I never used to be like this. I was friendly and had a great group of friends years ago. Then the anxiety and depression overtook me. Now I struggle just to tread water. I long for real relationships with my family, for friendships with others, for a community to be a part of, and ultimately for fellowship with God. I want to be comfortable in who God has made me to be. In the role I am to play in the life he has given me. I want to trust that His ways are perfect and that He will guide me to perfect peace in Him as He guides me through life as He has intended it to be. In community with His children and with Him. Thank you for the reminder to be brave and to have child-like faith. To trust that God will be with me always and protect me as I struggle through this seemingly endless darkness. In Him there is no fear. His love can cast away every fear.

    • Rebekah, I have struggled with severe depression and anxiety that have taken years away. It is so difficult to be in! I read your post and want you to know God is with you right where you are at and I will be praying for you. Praying that God may use this very problem to bring you closer to Him and to bring Him glory, that you may find peace and rest in Him, and that He will bring you friends and you will be brave and allow yourself to be messy, nervous, scared, truthful with them. Lots of love! Rhonda. A friend with similar issues.

  6. Friendships/relationships freak me out.

    For so long I have always been what I thought everyone wanted me to be that now I am terrified to be myself. It has gone so far that when the leader of my counseling group told me that they would love me/accept me no matter what, I was in shock. “What? No ifs/ands/buts?”

    I realize now that this is why my dating relationships have failed, why I have gravitated toward unhealthy friendships and why my mother and I had become codependent.

    I want to learn how to “do” relationships!

  7. I am incredibly safe with relationships. I fear being rejected so I hardly approach individuals that I don’t know and I limit availability to those I am friends with. I tend to be a homebody. I want to learn how to make meaningful relationships and step outside my boundaries.

  8. I would say I lean pretty close to isolated. I’m working on friendship skills, but at this point my risk-taking is still things like saying hi to my friends when I see them. For the skill level I’m at right now I am pretty satisfied with the relationships I have, but I would love to have better relationships with people–hence working on improving my skills…

  9. It’s like that dislike of a food since childhood that you’re finally confronted with as an adult. You dive in (to be polite, of course) and find that you like it. That was me and raw spinach. I just love it. You’re daughter was very brave for such a big dog, but, thankfully, he was a kind dog. Enjoy your new family member!

  10. WOW, what a wonderful life lesson taught by a child! I am an admitted relationship phobic. Fears of rejection, hurt, judgement have prevented me from straying too far from the safety of the unconditional love afforded to me by my husband and children. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and I will make and effort to choose to be brave in hopes of becoming a “new me.”

  11. When I was working, relationships were easy because they all came with a pre-set of boundaries. Now that I am retired and living in a new place I have few relationships — it is scary at my age to even try to form friendships. Though we did find a church to attend, the difficulty of making relationships (and the possibility of hurt) just hold me back from doing so. I have begun attending a Bible study where perhaps this will open up for me.

  12. A dog on a leash or in a fence is a good word picture how I handle relationships. Most of my leashes or fences are rules: designed to keep other people where they need to be until I am sure that they are trustworthy.
    I am in the process of working on examining my rules, fences, and friends . Some days I feel free to open the gate, other days, I veer away.
    I hope one day to drop my backpack, get on my knees and enjoy the moment, as you daughter did.

  13. I am usually pretty brave until recently. My heart has been broken after losing one of the young men in my sons band. He lived with us three days a week. After his death everything feels really uncertain and so sad. It’s causing issues with things I’d never imagined. He was just like a son to me.

  14. I am intrigued by the book….and this year as my girls are 7 and 9 (almost 10) we jumped into the world of pets too. We don’t regret it though my 7-year-old is working through her fears too. I could so relate.

  15. There are few things I believe are worth the risk. I realize that while I am not one to embrace risk in many areas, relationships are one where I feel I do risk big for God. At the same time, all relationships have their struggles and I continue to struggle with how to risk it and yet not be walked all over. Your book looks really interesting!

  16. Definitely play it safe. At least for a while, til I really have time to get to know the person, and sometimes even then, I FEAR! Seems like I have been burned plenty of times.

  17. What a neat thought about bravery. At some point, when we are brave, the thing we overcame becomes normal to us. I’ll be thinking about this for a while. There are many things in my life that I want to come naturally and to seem normal. However, there’s an act of bravery in between now and normal. Thanks for this great post!

  18. With all of the comments above, I realize I am not the only one. I have tried many times to have friends and it never fails – that person/persons end up hurting me. To the point I gave up. Seems since then I have heard a few sermons telling me that I need to forgive those hurts and do the right thing. But it is so much easier to build a wall. My family moved about an hour from where all of those broken relationships were made. And we rarely go back – such an uncomfortable feeling!
    Since moving, I have realized how important relationships are and that God really wants us to “Love our neighbors” – so I have tried to make new friends. I have two really close friends that sadly to this day I am waiting on them to hurt me. I do open up with them, and that is when I wait for it to be used against me. But we have talked about my past and they know that secretly I am waiting for them to drop the bomb. But thankfully over 3 years later, my dear friends has been so wonderful to me. And they and I have been learning the importance of relationships and trying to make more friends. We have started this year, inviting other ladies we know out on “Girls night” with us. In fact, this Saturday we are going on our 2nd one! Dinner and bowling and each of our (now 4 friends) needs to try to think of someone and bring them with us. We are all looking forward to making more friends. Thanks to (in)courage for giving us more ideas to work on our relationships!!! I try to read something every morning here!! Thank you!!

  19. I often play it safe until I get to know someone better, but it’s more difficult to get to know people better while playing it safe….

  20. No, I am not happy with the health of my relationships. I play it safe. I’m not exactly sure what I’m afraid of – getting hurt, them seeing who I really am and it not being enough, something else entirely?

  21. I believe I am trusting in relationships. Perhaps too trusting–perhaps too naive. Finding the time to really establish deep, abiding relationships seems to be my biggest obstacle to relating. Thanks for addressing this intriguing topic, Julie. Blessings.

  22. I love how Lainey shored herself up, decided she liked the dog and said I’m not brave. She’s moving on 😀 I really like to get to know others thru other people at times, but thats the lazy way. It’s far better for me to chose my own friends. Albeit a bit riskier then too 😀

  23. I am not at all brave and now as an adult I am without many friends and I am not sure how to start. I feel lonely and isolated a lot. Would love to have this book.

  24. Oh I so play it safe on relationships… I need help with my insecurities…. I have a very special friendship with my best friend but I’m deathly afraid of it becoming something more for the fear of losing him….. I know I shouldn’t be scared but oh I am terrified….

  25. I definitely play it safe. It was interesting as I read these comments how many ladies do the same thing! I think part of it is a control thing for me. If I don’t let anyone (especially other gals) close, I’m in control… or am I?

  26. i definitely play it safe, even with friends i’ve had for years… i always have thought in the back of my mind of getting hurt or even accidently hurting someone else. i think i’ve gotten better over the years but still have some work to do.

  27. I got burned too many times, so I find myself playing it safe with friendships outside of our family. Thankfully, I have many healthy family relationships!

  28. I play it safe but people think I don’t… they THINK I am open, when really, I am open but I never let anyone at my achiles heal

  29. Generally in a good place, but also tend to play it safe. We are in a phase of building new relationships right now, having moved across the country a year ago, but see new ones beginning to grow and develop.

  30. I am happy in most of my relationships. The fear of rejection in certain areas tends to remain, but I’m trying to just trust God with that.

  31. I’m now 2 1/2 years removed from a 13 year marriage that ended with betrayal and awfulness. And thanking the Lord that He’s healed me enough to allow me to consider dating again. So I’m filled with fear and trepidation most days – and cautiously trying to be BRAVE and give this a whirl… and trusting God to lead me each step of the way.

  32. I don’t think I live honestly enough. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of what others will think. And these aren’t strangers…these are my close friends! I have some things I’ve shared with God and that is it. My partner, whom I didn’t know I could love so deeply, has not ever rejected me..or made me feel weird in any way. He has always allowed me to express myself….so why am I still afraid to do so? I am just beginning my walk with the Lord…and I would love to have this book to help in my study and pursuit of his heart.

  33. I play it safe- don’t let anyone in – I don’t want to pass this on to my 9 children ! ):

  34. Relationships are the most difficult part of life, for me. I am just beginning to try again. Yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone, because my son was invited to a gathering. It was very difficult. I realized, however, that the people we spent time with made themselves vulnerable by having us over, too.
    I would love to read this book.

  35. I am isolated. I stay that way. I do most things alone too. I do not talk unless asked a question. I generally vacation alone and socialize alone. My husband seems to be involving himself more into my life & interests. It is nice too, when he shares in my life.

  36. I play it safe with my friends. I don’t have anyone special friend besides my husband because I learned early on that women hurt.

  37. A little of all of the above? I definitely have a few healthy relationships, but I also have some conflicted/complicated ones and have seen more recently that I am now starting to play it safe the older I get, which is something that I do not love about myself. I want to love well.

  38. I am TERRIBLE at relationships now. I use to be wide open, but got so hurt (by death and betrayal) that i had to protect myself. I continue to try, over and over, to open up! When i pray, asking God for help, it helps….but doesnt last. I would love to work this study, as i dont like living in this pit of loneliness….thank u for discussing this difficult topic.

  39. Oh, how I thank you for writing this book. I am so afraid in relationships. Thank you very much for the offering. May God bless you.

  40. Relationships are my biggest spiritual weakness in this life. I jump into relationships that I desire TOO quickly and become co-dependent without even realizing it. When that close friend wants to make other close friends, I tend to “act out” and breed an unhealthy tie. All the while, my other friendships are not as close as maybe they could be because all of my time and attention is being placed in this now unhealthy relationship. I’m just being real here 🙂

    I am a spiritual leader on so many fronts but this article, and others like it, are encouraging because the struggle with relationships can easily become an idol in one’s life. God has recently struck this chord loud and has asked me to surrender it! If you read my comment and can relate to the panic I feel when I think I’m being replaced (even if that is not the case in reality), please know that there are others who struggle with this temptation to sin and put a close tie here on earth before your relationship with Jesus. Now that you know it, take my advice (as I have recently taken the advice of others) and do something about it now! It can be a miserable battle to fight every-day and Lord knows He won’t relent until He has ALL of your heart. It belongs to Him. Thank you for this article.

  41. I have been too trusting in relationships and have gotten burned for that. Now I play it safe…sometimes isolate. This book looks interesting

  42. I, too, tend to play it safe. I do have one friend with whom I feel safe enough to tell anything, but beyond that, I play it safe. I have been hurt several times. Why is it that we women hurt each other so often?

  43. I find relationships hard work and they usually end up in disappointment. I feel like I either find those who are so needy I feel smothered or not available when I am in need. I didn’t even realize I had such a hard time with relationships until I moved away from the small town I grew up in and lived for 50 years. It took me 2 years to make a couple of good friends and then we moved again. Now I just don’t seem to care if I make new friends or not. I

  44. I tend to play it safe. I need to be around people, but often I’m scared to show my true self and build those deep relationships. I tend to take it very slow.

  45. After years of rejection by other women, I’m in a semi-permanent state of withdrawal. Do I like this? No I do not! But I’m afraid of more hurt.

  46. I can always use help and this sounds wonderful! Thank you for the giveaway! In the past have played it safe but the Lord puts on my heart certain people and I love to serve Him so I reach out in faith. This is new for me.

  47. I am right there with Lainey, “trying to be brave” but not wanting to be called out for that. Charming, encouraging post! Thank you.

  48. I tend to be reserved, holding back until I know I’m with someone I can trust. It takes a lot (and I do mean a LOT) for me to even start a conversation with someone new. Being in a large group that is told to “mingle. ask 3 people you don’t know these 2 questions…” is one of my biggest fears! I tend to stick by someone I do know, and then ask the questions to people who approach me first.
    Once I get to know you, however, I am the total opposite…often one to share TOO much. It’s a good thing I have amazing friends who were willing to stick it out in the beginning and are now willing to tell me to be quiet when I’ve said (or start to say) too much.

  49. I play it safe with my husband…because of many, many things, mostly past abuse. I know he’d love it if I just loved with abandon, but I hold back for protection sake.

    I love my children deeply and consistently, though.

  50. I play it safe. It always seems like people I’m interested in befriending already have a group of friends. In college it was so easy & natural to make new friends and let the “bad” relationships go. I have friends now who I’ve really grown apart from since getting married/having kids/developing stronger relationship with God, but I’m afraid to let them go because then I’d have none!

  51. I tend to develope “isolated” relationships. There are few, if any, people I truly confide in.

  52. There are relationships that fall into our lives easily and are a blessing and comfortable. However, lately my husband and I have been praying that God will take us out of our comfort zone to friendships and relationships with those who need them most. Those we don’t have much in common with, or aren’t “like us” but those that Jesus would choose to befriend. Our hearts desire is that those relationships that Jesus would seek are those we are seeking. .. and in those we can be a light for Him.

  53. I’m pretty happy with the state of my relationships. Moving out of state really pushed me out of my comfort zone. While I had a few good friends already living here, I mostly had to start from scratch. If I played it safe, I wouldn’t have most of the good friends I have here today.

  54. I find myself playing it safe quite a bit. I’m not sure why. At times it seems I can be overly emotional, and at other times, I feel so detached from my emotions. I try to hide them from others and have difficulty letting people in. I’ve been married for the past 11 years. My marital relationship is okay – a work in progress. I am close to my family (mostly just parents though). I’m not close with my brother or other relatives. I miss having female friends and have moved around so much that I’ve found it hard to initiate relationships and feel awkward and uncomfortable. I haven’t kept in touch with “old friends” & feel as though I’ve grown apart. Just feeling lost and lonely.

  55. I’m a very independent gal probably because I am an only child and raised with good morals. I tend to be self- sufficient and reserved in relationships. I also feel that I need to open up more and more forth-coming on my thoughts and feelings. Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  56. Being a people person and very outgoing, people seem to gravitate to me. I choose who I confide in building trustworthy relationships over time. This seems like a fabulous book and look forward to reading it!

  57. Being a very quiet conservative gal, it takes awhile for me to gain confidence &open up more to people. This book seems very insightful and like it would help me with my lack of openness to people.

  58. Iplay it safe with some, but I have two very close kindred spirits…my BFF and my hubby.

  59. I like to be reserved – however I am a person to express my feelings…if I’m happy or not, my husband and kid will tell. Sometimes I feel like just few people can understand me. Perhaps I need to open up bit more. But standing in the safe zone of quietness is often what I like to be.
    Thanks for the chance to win the copy!

  60. I used to be super shy–now just a little shy but once I get to know you I spill the beans. I enjoy being around people for the most part.

    My husband is just the opposite. He is an introvert and unless you have something in common with him–he doesn’t talk much.

  61. Like Scarlett O’Hara I have been saying..”Oh. I’ll think about it ‘tomorrow’!” Doing this for 20 plus years leads me to say “enough already”. People to see, places to go, looking at dreams and goals that I put away long ago…and a decision/action that is a MUST right now, as much as it will hurt..is where I am, and I must be Brave, I have to behave in an assertive, necessary way. Please pray for this procrastinating woman…thanks and God bless you.

  62. I’d love to win this contest! I am happy with the vast majority of relationships in my life, but I also see areas of relational weakness. For instance, I can talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere about the surface stuff of life, but it takes me a long time to open up and be truly vulnerable. It isn’t due to gigantic past hurts, but simply a closely guarded, discerning heart. That can be a good thing. But left unchecked, it can also build a wall others can’t penetrate.

  63. That was such a helpful thing you did for your little girl. I kind of wish my parents had done that for me when I was growing up; I’ve never been great around animals.

  64. I don’t know that I am exactly afraid, as much as I never learned how to form relationships outside of the family…and inside the family I learned at a very early age that no-one wants to see your pain, so I keep myself emotionally apart. My entire life has been about my family and my job, but recently all of our kids (and grandkids) have moved out and I am not working at present, so I spend the entire day alone until my husband gets home…and then again after dinner until bed as we tend to go our seperate ways in the house. I am clueless how to change this, or what that change would look like.

  65. relationships r important to me..they need work even though i know we all try our hardest..they r still tough ground sometimes

  66. Wow this really made me think about just how guarded I am in all of my relationships. I do believe it is due to my past, that I thought I have dealt with and am over, but that is really not the case. Thank you for opening my eyes. This is an area I will be working on.

  67. I play it safe. I only have a few “real” relationships. I am currently in one conflicted one that I have tried to restore, but she will not allow it. Breaks my heart.

  68. What an incredibly intriguing topic…I love the whole idea behind it and would love to read all about it…I tend to jump all in, but not everyone in my family reacts the same way, so it would be a fantastic resource for me to even discuss with the kids.

  69. Thinking about this kinda makes me sad! I look at myself and all the work I put into certain relationships…. almost exhausting….. With not much in return maybe I have to many expectations?? I’m very loyal and honest, will sacrifice to help my friends over my family…. Learning over the years after much hurt I still find myself falling back into the same thoughts. Why?? I sometimes get angry, yet try to tell myself be happy for my friend, I’ve even found myself asking God to remove that friend from my life. My mind does not help I think it also plays a huge part in it. It is funny how certain relationships seem to be so much work on one end, and others are beautiful….

  70. I used to isolate myself. Due to a patient and forgiving horse, Pongo, I’ve been able to develop a relationship with him,others and now step out, “Be Brave” and start dating.

  71. First, this post sounded SO much like my son. Too bad we cannot have a dog where we live! 🙁

    I believe I am more of a “play it safe” kind of person in relationships.

  72. Right now I’m somewhere between isolated and playing it safe. While my divorce is being finalized, I just want to spend time processing and grieving and growing. But I feel the tug o life and wanting to make a new start.

  73. Hmm… Playing it safe. I want to be brave too. Some days are easier than others. Those are the days I let God be in charge. I wish He were in charge more often. 🙂

  74. Relationships are always a bit risky, but what would life be without them!? They are worth the risks and even though some may present challenges, most make life fun, adventurous, and so very fulfilling and worthwhile! :o)

  75. Wow, it sounds and looks like it would stretch me in ways that would not be altogether comfortable :-0 at the moment….which is to say, I probably should get my hands on it. Thanks.

  76. Wow. All these comments have brought me to the conclusion that I play it safe. In my first marriage (that should be your first clue), my husband and I friended another couple he worked with that was close in age. Turns out she caused a lot of turmoil between my husband and myself. Now, a new marriage and a better husband … we don’t really have other “couple friends” that we hang out with. Hindsight causes me to play it safe, but I’ve never really thought about it that way.

  77. What an outpouring of honest and vulnerable confessions!

    I hope you hear, through so many people’s comments, that you are not alone in your struggles!

    It’s ironic, isn’t it? We oftentimes feel isolated or fear relationships because we think no one can understand or relate to us; or because we don’t think people have a desire to be connected to us. When chances are, there are people near us that really want community and yet feel the same hesitations. I hope you are encouraged, knowing that we were made for relationships.

    To those of you who have been hurt and are still suffering from the wounds, leaving you with mistrust and reluctance to open yourself again, I pray that you will find hope and healing on your journey. I pray that you may be able to grasp how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18) and that He will heal you and fill you so that you might be able to find your security in Him and can be freed up to love!

  78. It took me a LONG time to get here, but in general, I am happy with the state of my relationships. I have always been a “heart-wide-open” kind of girl, some would say too loving, too trusting, too giving… and that has resulted in heartbreak from time to time. The good thing about this is, I have always been WILLING to love, ABLE to trust, FEARLESS even when I knew that there was a chance someone might disappoint me, always ready to give, to encourage, to nurture… I used to think those were flaws, now I see they are strengths.

  79. I’m happy in my relationships, but have been in some really questionable ones. Thank God For his mercy and grace

  80. I think that in most relationships I am happy in my relationships but I do know that in dating relationships I’m more likely to play it safe because I’ve gotten hurt before. It’s definitely something I’m working on!

  81. I am good at having deep relationships with a few people and I’m lousy at relating to people on a casual basis. This causes a few people to feel very loved and a lot of people to feel very unloved. Wish I could change this.

  82. often play it safe … but understand that i need to take more risks in relationships … so worth it!

  83. I am very guarded in relationships. I just had a conversation with one of my sons yesterday and told him that I realize I don’t really let people know who I am. I guess I assume they don’t really care. In so many conversations, people prefer to talk about themselves, so I don’t bother to share my life with them.
    Maybe I need to get to know other kinds of people!

  84. I definitely play it safe. I’ve always been one who friends could confide in & come to for help, but I don’t open up much of myself to others. I have a lot of “good” friends, but I know this is why I can’t seem to make those “best” friend relationships that I so desire.

  85. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the way I interact with others lately. I really do want to open up more, but the idea of it gets me so scared. I am thankful for this post and all its comments though.. it’s encouraging to know I’m not alone. Fear sure has a way of making us feel isolated and out of place.

  86. Hmm.. I suppose I am guarded and quick to anger. I tell myself it’s to keep from getting hurt, but your post is a reminder that it’s also keeping me isolated : )

    PS- this website is feels like the universe reaching out to ME specifically. I love it!

  87. I play it safe until I know I can trust. Right now I am still trying to meet new friends my age after moving to a new state. Making friends can seem so hard when you feel like you don’t have many. But I’m not giving up!

  88. I know I have played it safe in more relationships that I care to admit. Being a pastor’s wife, finding real and honest friends is hard. And when I do step out of my comfort zone, I am afraid of getting hurt or not being accepted for just me.

    Also, I am sooooooooooooo glad to know someone else has a daughter that is/was scared to death of dogs! We have a 5 year old that reacts exactly as your daughter has. She always asks when we go to a new person’s home if they have a dog and if she hears a dog, she scales up me to safety. We, both she and I, have shed many tears trying to understand her fear and help her work through it. My husband and I hope that someday we can have a dog of our own as well and help her work through her fear. Thanks for being an encouragement! Sometimes we feel like the only family with child who has a crazy fear of dogs!

  89. I play it safe if I have had issues with that person in the past but if not then I completely put myself out there. I tend to be really open and honest and my life reads like an open book and I believe that helps my friends feel more comfortable opening up to me about issues and problems they may be having.

  90. I am somewhat isolated with women relationships. I find it difficult to connect. A recent move made it even more difficult. I find myself insecure and lost for words when interacting. Introverted, for sure.