To help! My partner doesn’t enjoy the same outdoor sports as me.
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My girlfriend and I have been in a long term relationship longer than most mutual friends who are now married. The last few years have been long distance until the pandemic where I moved for a job in the same field. She’s certain I’m the only one and set a proposal deadline that has since come and gone a handful of times because I’m still not sure.
Things with her are fantastic everywhere else, but we have a difference in how we enjoy the outdoors. She recently picked a few of my hobbies that I think are part of who I am, like cycling, and not others, like skiing. I do everything in my power to help her enjoy them because I dream of a partner to share them with, but sometimes with her it has been a bumpy road.
She loves these new activities, but it hits hard when her pleasure flips like a switch and she’s had enough but we’re downhill from the car, or an ATV trail has been surprisingly rooted. We tried cross country skiing and I handicapped myself doing it in AT gear, carrying all our stuff, but things fell apart emotionally at the end of the beginners loop. It’s less common when we go with a bunch of newcomers to the same sport, but I still get blatant signals from her when she’s had enough. We turn around to keep up with his pace but that’s a big stressor for me, especially when his frustration has been channeled against me despite my pre-driving and route planning to make it as easy as possible for him. I don’t care what his level of ability is, I just want to be with someone who likes to try. I have social friends for the more extreme, type 2 fun parts of these activities.
I feel like things are converging as she progresses, but it hits particularly hard when she’s been sitting around for part of the day and a mutual friend and I are doing a few extra bike rides, or that I continue to plan another season of solo ski trips and weekends in the saddle. The fat bike could prove promising for the winter season, but the same constraints apply. We took a break and missed a proposal deadline which she has since agreed to drop completely. I try to understand if I should continue to see if things converge or start again.
I think the outdoor sports situation might be something of a red herring here. Your girlfriend is sure it’s you, you’re not sure, she’s setting proposal deadlines, you’re going over them… The central problem in your relationship right now seems less about skiing, and more about having fun. ‘she wants to make a lifelong commitment to you, and you think you might not want that now or ever.
But let’s start with the outer stuff, because it’s easier (on the surface, at least). If I understand correctly: you plan trips that are at your girlfriend’s level, she suddenly runs out of steam, things get tense, it’s just not the fun co-adventure you – and probably her – hope to enjoy . Sounds like a major disappointment to everyone, which is a shame, especially since these are excursions that ideally, at least, would bring you together.
When people seem to get suddenly exhausted during an activity, it usually means that they had had enough for a while and were either trying to hide that fact or give signals that others didn’t. not captured. So maybe your girlfriend has been out there on the trail, tired, cold and hungry and generally unhappy, trying to make up for it, pretending to be having fun, until she suddenly reaches a point where she can’t pretend anymore and that’s when it seems like she’s snapping – without warning, because she’s been hiding her growing feelings. It would be absolutely shocking for those around him. Alternatively, she’s been trying to hint for a while that she’s about to quit, and you don’t realize it, so eventually she feels she has to get super dramatic about things for you to notice. It would also shock you, although she may feel otherwise – that in fact you should have seen it coming.
Either way, things would be better for both of you if you started having frequent and explicit checks, leaving nothing to interpretation, because interpretations aren’t working for you right now. The conversation might look like this.
You: “Do you want to ski on Saturday? If so, how long do you think you want to go? »
Her: “I do! I think I’ll be up for two hours, but I’m not sure…”
At that time, you could plan an hour-long ski trip, with the option of adding more loops if she feels like it. Then during the ski trip you can check in again.
You, skiing: “How are you? Do you want to take a break? How long do you think you are ready? »
She, who also skis: “Yeah, I’m starting to get cold, so I think I just want to go another half hour.”
You, disappointed, but staying positive (because you want her to feel comfortable saying how she really feels): “Okay, that sounds good. Let’s take that shortcut again and have some hot chocolate.
It may not be particularly exciting for you, but it’s a way to help things end on high notes – maybe the only way, at least until you communicate better at this subject. And I hope it will help you to have mutually amusing experiences, even if they seem too short to you; maybe that’s what she needs right now. But that may not solve other problems, namely that she just might not like outdoor sports – or at least not the way you want. Or, I hate to say it, but maybe she’s not that interested with you.
Because these sports that you do together, it’s a test, isn’t it? You don’t know if you want to marry her; you dream of a partner for outdoor sports; she wants you to want to marry her, and she tries these sports in hopes that, well, something will change. It’s not that far-fetched to imagine that on some level she senses the stakes. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a ski trip, and it would certainly explain why his emotions tend to run high. A field trip is not a fun adventure if you feel like the course of your life is at stake.
Which brings us back to the original problem, which is that your girlfriend wants to be in a relationship that she knows for sure is headed for marriage.
You know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to plan an adventure, like an ATV ride, and you just don’t know if your girlfriend will be okay with it? That’s what she’s going through right now, but with her whole life.
You don’t owe your girlfriend a proposal, but you do owe her complete honesty about where you stand – or not – on the future of the relationship. The conversation will be painful and awkward. You may feel like you are hurting her at the time; you may feel like you are hurting yourself. Chances are you’ll break up. But at least you’ll both be working with the same truth, the same information, and then you can choose what you want to do with it. Indoors or out, it’s the foundation for everything else.