Many approaches have been utilized to understand adolescent risk taking. The current research frames risk taking as a purposive behavior enacted with a speciﬁc goal in mind. Rather than assuming adolescent risk taking to be the result of arrogance or perceived invulnerability, adolescent risk taking is interpreted as a means to an end. Stemming from a Tolmanian framework, an alternative explanation for adolescent risk taking is tested: adolescents are willing to take risks to the extent that the risk is associated with a needed outcome – the greater the need for the outcome, the greater the willingness to take risks. To test the proposed hypothesis, 192 participants completed a survey about their need for a romantic relationship and their willingness to endure harm to obtain a romantic relationship. Data were collected at two time points. A hierarchical regression revealed that need for romance is a signiﬁcant predictor of willingness to endure harm for romance, even after gender and sensation seeking are statistically controlled. Moreover, need for romance at T1 was shown to be predictive of harm for romance at T2. Results are supportive of taking a purposive – that is, Tolmanian – approach, as a means for interpreting adolescent behavior.