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When your partner isn't your partner: How to balance climbing in a relationship


Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
the schmuck wrote:

Well, I may go bouldering, or start bike racing again...She might start triathlons again.  We could take the dog out for a trail run...or, we could go climbing with other people.  Which is kind of what we and other couples that we know have done for the past 20 or so years that we've been together.  Its not like climbing is the only thing, even though its been the main thing for most of our time together.  Besides, if you have three weeks of vacation per year, it is kind of nice spend it in lets say Kalymnos or the Verdon with your wife and not feel like a dick about the choice of location/activity.  No?

All variations on the same theme - something intensely physical.  What if your SO can't/doesn't want that.  Do you have a cerebral connection?  Or do you discover that the love of your life is actually pretty shallow and anything intellectual is too much of  a stretch?  What was the last concert that your shared?

Lovena Harwood · · MA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 335
Rachel Peterson wrote: OK Ladies, I have a conundrum and would love your input and stories. I am in a wonderful relationship with a man I adore, but a big issue that's come up is that he doesn't share my love of climbing. We travel constantly and are on the road and I'm finding it very difficult to find a way to work in time to pursue climbing. Climbing to me is my passion and necessary for my happiness and mental health. We love spending time together, but despite my best efforts (including encouragement and even buying him shoes and harness) he has no interest in pursuing climbing.

Does anyone else have a relationship like this? How do you find balance without it being something that comes between you?

Hi Rachel,

I'm a late bloomer...started climbing 8 years ago, both our children were out on their own then. My groom of 35.5 years is a non climber and has no interest in climbing. But I have taken him on hikes and he did really well on rock scrambling considering both knee replacements and knees that no longer bend like they used to. He knows how much I love climbing and has no problems when I go out to climb or go on climbing trips. He's been golfing for 51 years and I wouldn't dream of having him quit that...I know how much he loves to golf!

When I do go on climbing trips I prefer he not tag along. Since he has no interest in climbing, then I may have to keep him occupied. If I do that then I wouldn't be able to focus on climbing. So I just rather him go out and get in a round of golf or go have lunch with his buddies.

Besides golfing together, we enjoy going out to watch movies. When he's not away on business we go for the dinner-and-a-movie date on the weekends. Compromise is the key to our long marriage. Knowing what makes each other happy and really wanting one another to be happy is important to both of us.
the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110
Eric Engberg wrote:

All variations on the same theme - something intensely physical.  What if your SO can't/doesn't want that.  Do you have a cerebral connection?  Or do you discover that the love of your life is actually pretty shallow and anything intellectual is too much of  a stretch?  What was the last concert that your shared?

Jesus dude, really? My "shallow relationship" is going on 20 years now...so I guess that shallow works for us...anyway, it's good to do something physical after sitting in an office all week. Oh, and since you asked, it was Blondie at Austin City Limits about 9 months ago. Yes, we flew out just to see a show. Go figure.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 322

I have been with my girlfriend for a bit over 4 years now- she is very athletic, but definitely not a climber.  The biggest troubles we originally had were with the longer trips away from home.  I traveled a lot for work over the first couple years of us dating and she could always wrap her head around me being gone for that.  For climbing though, I had to really explain that just like my commitment to work, family, and relationships, my commitment to climbing was part of what makes me who I am.  If I chose not to do it, I wouldn't be the same person who she had come to fall in love with.  Overtime, she now fully understands that.  I do make it a point to try to still do (non-climbing) vacations and long weekends throughout the year with her though.  Luckily she picked up (resort) skiing pretty well so we can make a few good trips out of that every year.  I also make it a point to be home for every birthday, anniversary, big holiday, etc.  

A word of advice, do not try going down the path of getting somebody into climbing who does not love it on their own accord.  News flash: climbing sucks pretty bad if you don't really love it!  I actually did not push her into it at all, she was pretty adamant to become a climber for about a year.  We both knew that it was mostly because she wanted to join in on the experiences of the climbs with me rather than her own pure love for climbing though.  We gave it a shot anyways, and she actually became a better indoor rock climber than me for a period of time. It culminated with us climbing the East Buttress of Mt Whitney, which we successfully summitted.  Unfortunately, she hated every moment of it.  (Now it is kind of a running joke between us haha.)  She now has no intent to climb anything ever again.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
the schmuck wrote:

Jesus dude, really? My "shallow relationship" is going on 20 years now...so I guess that shallow works for us...anyway, it's good to do something physical after sitting in an office all week. Oh, and since you asked, it was Blondie at Austin City Limits about 9 months ago. Yes, we flew out just to see a show. Go figure.

Glad you found someone who shares your deep thoughts.

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 745
normajean wrote: I am willing to bet that among climbers, those who have a climbing SO are more satisfied with that aspect of the relationship than those who don’t have a climbing SO. 

Maybe. But people rarely isolate one aspect of their life to indicate happiness/unhappiness.

Think about it in terms of, say, living close to a climbing location.

Many people end up in that situation accidentally ( they just happened to be born in Colorado, moved to SLC for job, and then started climbing, etc) and are quite happy about it, so when they think about moving away from their current nice location, they think they would be unhappy.

OTOH, many people happen to live a good distance away from climbing destinations. And sure, they complain about the drive occasionally, and talk about how nice it would be to live close to climbing. But they aren't SO unhappy about their situation that they choose to uproot the family, change the job, and move elsewhere. In fact, they also feel quite happy overall, and they will point out other perks, such as having an easy access to museums, or theaters, or ethnic grocery stores, or restaurants, or extended family... whatever it is they like about their current location.

There is only a small minority of people who would prioritize the climbing location over everything else. And in some cases this kind of shift will make them happier, and they will readily tell you about it.

But there are also a small minority of people who THOUGHT that this was an important thing that would make them happy, so they made the change, and discovered they actually hated that very same thing that they thought they would love. I have a friend who complained about the drive from Cleveland to NRG and RRG, and talked about how awesome it would be to live in Colorado. He moved to Rifle, it was his dream location, and he found a job there... only to discover that he hated Rifle and would rather fly to NRG for his every vacation and holiday.  

Same with relationships/happiness. Most climbers who are in relationship with climbers are happy in those relationships, or they wouldn't be there. So they will tell you that they are happy, and can't think of a non-climbing relationship. Most people who are in non-climbing relationships are also happy, and will tell you about great things they have going on. Some people will tell you that they tried both, and discovered that one works better for them. And some people will be able to look  back at climbing and non-climbing relationships they had in the past, and realize that climbing, or not-climbing, was not a deciding factor in whether the relationship worked, or not.

 

señdera la reina · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

So much wringing of the hands.

I tell you when you are sincere in your love it will work.  It is not always easy but it will work.

normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100
Lena chita wrote:

Maybe. But people rarely isolate one aspect of their life to indicate happiness/unhappiness.

Think about it in terms of, say, living close to a climbing location.

Many people end up in that situation accidentally ( they just happened to be born in Colorado, moved to SLC for job, and then started climbing, etc) and are quite happy about it, so when they think about moving away from their current nice location, they think they would be unhappy.

OTOH, many people happen to live a good distance away from climbing destinations. And sure, they complain about the drive occasionally, and talk about how nice it would be to live close to climbing. But they aren't SO unhappy about their situation that they choose to uproot the family, change the job, and move elsewhere. In fact, they also feel quite happy overall, and they will point out other perks, such as having an easy access to museums, or theaters, or ethnic grocery stores, or restaurants, or extended family... whatever it is they like about their current location.

There is only a small minority of people who would prioritize the climbing location over everything else. And in some cases this kind of shift will make them happier, and they will readily tell you about it.

But there are also a small minority of people who THOUGHT that this was an important thing that would make them happy, so they made the change, and discovered they actually hated that very same thing that they thought they would love. I have a friend who complained about the drive from Cleveland to NRG and RRG, and talked about how awesome it would be to live in Colorado. He moved to Rifle, it was his dream location, and he found a job there... only to discover that he hated Rifle and would rather fly to NRG for his every vacation and holiday.  

Same with relationships/happiness. Most climbers who are in relationship with climbers are happy in those relationships, or they wouldn't be there. So they will tell you that they are happy, and can't think of a non-climbing relationship. Most people who are in non-climbing relationships are also happy, and will tell you about great things they have going on. Some people will tell you that they tried both, and discovered that one works better for them. And some people will be able to look  back at climbing and non-climbing relationships they had in the past, and realize that climbing, or not-climbing, was not a deciding factor in whether the relationship worked, or not.

 

I agree with the majority of what you are saying but willing to bet that majority of climbers who are HAPPY with their life partners ARE HAPPIER when their life partner also climbs.  One proof is, there are no posts here where people complain that their SO also climbs! I would make an even broader statement: most people are happier with partners who share their interests, be it dogs, knitting, biking, traveling, etc. 

Squeak · · Perth West OZ · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 21
normajean wrote: I am willing to bet that among climbers, those who have a climbing SO are more satisfied with that aspect of the relationship than those who don’t have a climbing SO. 

I'll take that bet. And you would lose.

señdera la reina · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
normajean wrote:

I agree with the majority of what you are saying but willing to bet that majority of climbers who are HAPPY with their life partners ARE HAPPIER when their life partner also climbs.  One proof is, there are no posts here where people complain that their SO also climbs! I would make an even broader statement: most people are happier with partners who share their interests, be it dogs, knitting, biking, traveling, etc. 

I tell you this is not how relationships are.  You are are happy or you are not happy.  When one starts asking if they could be more happy, they may find themselves not happy at all.

Cherish the blessings we have.  This I know.
Bill M · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 317

Ok, my wife of 30 years does not climb.  Oh, sure she has a harness and can belay and has done some long moderate days with me and my son - when he was a teenager - but it is not her passion. However, we met as raft guides, kayaked for nearly a decade together, she raced mountain bikes, runs ultras; so she "gets" the whole idea of adventure sports.  Climbing was just too much "hurry up and wait" and gear intensive for her.  That is fine, I do my thing, she does hers.  We support each other and meet sometimes in the middle.  I know there is no fu*king way I would run a 50K, but if that is how she wants to spend her weekends, go for it.  We can meet at Ed's Cantina in Estes for a beer at the end of the day.

Honestly, I don't think I would want her climbing.  Then it would be one more thing to compromise over.  When it is just me I get to choose exactly what my agenda is.  If I want to do the Diamond on Longs I do it.  If I want to hike into the Winds with a big frigging pack for a week I do it.  And so on.  If she climbed I know we would end up in the middle somewhere where neither one was doing what we really wanted.  It would certainly be that way for her too if I tried to keep up with here doing the things she loves to do.

With that said, I think it is crucial to have a SO who can appreciate why you are devoted to an outdoor sport, and if either one of us had ever tried to manipulate each other out do doing the sports we do, then I doubt our marriage would have lasted.  Not to say it's always been a bed of roses and we have our issues but I can with some amazement, not once has it ever been about our adventure sport passions.

As we look our 60's coming up faster than we want to admit, the big question is what sports are we going to "age out" of and what will replace them with.  To be honest, my last trip up the Diamond kicked my ass and I doubt I will ever do that again.  A long day at Lumpy is fun, but 60 miles on a dirt bike is just as fun for me these days.  So even if climbing is your total passion this decade it may not be that way in the next one.  

beccs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 110

I have a friend who's main activity is climbing, and her husband's is road cycling. She would not consider herself a serious cyclist, he would not consider himself a serious climber, but he will go climbing with her and she goes cycling with him. They choose vacation locations with decent climbing and decent cycling around.

In short, if you have a passion (read: climbing) your partner also needs a passion. If their hobby is you, or they don't want to spend time outside it's going to be hard to make things work.

Only, Locals · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 1,160


the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110
beccs wrote: I have a friend who's main activity is climbing, and her husband's is road cycling. She would not consider herself a serious cyclist, he would not consider himself a serious climber, but he will go climbing with her and she goes cycling with him. They choose vacation locations with decent climbing and decent cycling 

Mallorca!!!

Rachel Peterson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 7

Wow thank you so much for all the well thought out replies to this thread, I really truly appreciate it! One of my favorite things now and always is how supportive and awesome the climbing community is. <3
To clarify, I'm not a "once or twice a month" climber, I go minimum twice a week, more if possible, and often take extended trips. It has been truly difficult to taper that down to allow more time for the mutual hobbies that we have. This may be the price of holding a climber/non-climber relationship, as time together takes a priority over most other things.

We do share a lot of mutual hobbies and interests together, which already takes a large amount of time away from climbing. I guess I just wishfully dream that he would become stoked on climbing to combine time together AND my passion. I do agree that too much time together can be a bad thing, and I love meeting new friends in the climbing community, so there are still positives that come out of this situation.

I would love to hear from more people, especially you awesome "slay-dies", keep it coming!

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 145
Rachel Peterson wrote: Wow thank you so much for all the well thought out replies to this thread, I really truly appreciate it! One of my favorite things now and always is how supportive and awesome the climbing community is. <3
To clarify, I'm not a "once or twice a month" climber, I go minimum twice a week, more if possible, and often take extended trips. It has been truly difficult to taper that down to allow more time for the mutual hobbies that we have. This may be the price of holding a climber/non-climber relationship, as time together takes a priority over most other things.

We do share a lot of mutual hobbies and interests together, which already takes a large amount of time away from climbing. I guess I just wishfully dream that he would become stoked on climbing to combine time together AND my passion. I do agree that too much time together can be a bad thing, and I love meeting new friends in the climbing community, so there are still positives that come out of this situation.

I would love to hear from more people, especially you awesome "slay-dies", keep it coming!

Rachel, it's a great topic you started.  Many of us continue to have evolving thoughts on this.  I'd like to say that for me, rock climbing is somewhat about freedom and adventure and independence as a woman who has been tied down for too many years with children and work.  I also would love for my bf to want to climb with me, but honestly, I wonder if it would ruin the bit of rebellion and total free-spiritedness of climbing if he planned and went on every trip and to the gym.  This is where I'm finding myself without any constraints. I think I need this space. (alone!)

My bf came on my last trip with me, and we had a really great time together.  We also did some things together that were more his idea.  But, I'm ready to venture out again to parts unknown, all on my own.  So for me, right now, rock climbing is 'mine'.  I don't have to share, or go somewhere I don't want to go, or watch someone else climb better or worse than me... this is my space to expand in.  I can do it within limits... and I can keep balance.  
I know it's different for everyone.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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