In today’s post guest contributor, Anna, shares her sage advice for dating in the climbing world.
“I saw this guy climbing at the wall last night, and he looked so hot on the wall, but then he came down and I thought ‘My God, that’s a face only a mother can love!'” – yes, my friend actually said that to me once. This perfectly describes dating in the climbing world – they all look just so hot mid-climb, but things aren’t always what they seem, and coming down to earth can be a major anticlimax.
When I first started climbing, my brother, who got me into the sport in the first place, told me I would never have a problem finding a boyfriend as a female climber. It is true that many couples throughout history found true love through their love of climbing and adventure. Take for example Robert and Miriam Underhill, now consider
This kind of romance may well await each one of us just around the corner. Yet it is in my capacity as a female climber that I have spent the longest part of my adult life being single. And it hasn’t been for lack of trying. I have dated climbers, as have my female climbing buddies, and we have learnt a lot in the process.
If you both love climbing, you won’t necessarily love each other
When I first fell in love with climbing, I automatically assumed that I would also fall in love with any male climber that happened to ask me out on a date. After all, if we shared a passion, how could we possibly not be the perfect match?
I was wrong, but it took a good chunk of time to figure that out. It turned out that if a boy and a girl have the same idea of a perfect weekend it doesn’t automatically make them a perfect match. Turns out there is also a huge amount of other stuff involved, like chemistry, emotional compatibility, and future expectations.
If you like what you see on the wall, that may not be the case off the wall
As climbers, we are disproportionally attracted to strong muscles and good climbing technique, but that in itself is not enough to ensure a ‘happily ever after’. Even the least attractive of men or women can turn into the hottest thing in the world once they get on the wall and flash that V8 or 7c lead right in front of your eyes. But they will always eventually have to come back down to earth, and so will your imagination.
All your dates become climbing dates
Another common issue is that when climbers want to ask you out on a date they invite you…climbing. This feels nice at first, because it’s familiar and something you both enjoy, but in the long run it can easily ruin the burgeoning relationship.
For one thing, you don’t want to date someone who has no other interests in life whatsoever apart from climbing (and if you think you do, I dare you to try!). Apart from that, you will be constantly surrounded by other climbers you both know on your dates at the gym or the crag, even if you originally plan to just go as a couple. And yes, they will know and remember every argument you’ve had since you started dating!
If you take a ‘newbie’ date to the climbing gym, prepare for disappointment
You may try to buck the trend and date non-climbers. Be careful then, when they ask you to take them climbing with you – and they will at some point. This seems like a nice idea at first, but boy is it hard to watch a newbie struggle on a V0 when that newbie is a boy you *thought* you fancied. As gender-stereotypical as this may be, some part of me wants to see the man I’m with being stronger and physically more able than I am. That can easily put you off your latest potential partner!
And if you break up with a climber…
…you don’t get to do the whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing, because your ex will climb at your gym on the same days as you every week, guaranteed. And he/she will turn up at all the same crags as you on the same weekends. Even if it’s not your local crag. Because, Sod’s law!
Move cities. Move countries. Or at least move gyms. Or, as a friend suggested, go to crags that are so hard to approach you are unlikely to encounter any people there at all, let alone your ex.
Ok, here’s some serious advice…
Some of these issues are unavoidable, but there are definitely things you can do to salvage a climbing relationship or avoid a breakup being more difficult that it needs to be.
- Think about what you want in a partner – do you even want to date a climber?
- If you decide you do – don’t despair! Dating in such a small community is bound to be fraught with some dangers, but it can also lead to unforgettable experiences, and you may just find that special someone through shared interest.
- When you find your guy (or gal), try not to climb together all the time; find other climbing friends and don’t rely on your other half as your sole climbing partner.
- Go on actual dates, not just climbing dates. Go to the theater or see a movie, or something.
- Avoid dating regulars from your gym. It really can go very wrong! (And yes, I know this one is easier said than done.)
- Only take non-climbing dates to the climbing gym once you like them enough to not be swayed by their incompetence on the wall!