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A question for women who climb harder than their boyfriends/husbands
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By sawtoothski
Jul 7, 2011

I am not a troll. In fact, I've contributed a fair share of info on MP as well as gained a lot from this community over the years. Albeit anonymous, I post this with sincerity. My partner knows that I frequent this site; when the time comes, I prefer to discuss this topic with him in person and not through a forum. Your advice and consideration is appreciated, but I know posting this on the internet invites mockery. I'll take what I can get since you are all climbers and can understand angles where others may not.

I have been in a relationship with a climber for almost a year. We started out equally passionate about the sport, but over the course of the past few months his interest has begun to wane. Another hobby has not taken the place of climbing. He is more so tired of the investment we have come to make to drive the 5+ hour drive to the nearest location to our apartment that's worth climbing. He climbs several grades lower and doesn't want to push it above the 5.10 range, which wasn't the case last year.

While I appreciate the climbing we do together, I want to push myself this year and really work on some goals that we don't share. I've posted to our local climbing club and on meetups looking for women that share a similar level of ability. All of the women I have contacted have steady partners, most of whom are boyfriends or spouses.

If the tables were turned, it's a lot easier for a guy to tell his girlfriend or wife that he needs, on occasion, to climb with his friends, at a harder grade, which is typically with men anyway. I've climbed with a few men and although completely platonic, it's straining the relationship I am having with my boyfriend. He's not bursting with jealously, but he's not too psyched on watching me drive off and spend weekends with another men. It's also tough to come back and pretend to not be super excited without unintentionally hurting him.

I'm not trying to make him out to look like an over sensitive pansy. He's not, but he has expressed his mild insecurity- a combination of me spending a lot of time with other men and from him unable to get up a lot of the routes I am comfortable climbing.

I just want to know how you women handle it. And this isn't a question of whether or not I should dump him. We share core values and it's a relationship I want to continue. Is anyone else in a similar position? I don't want to climb any less than I already do.

What do you do when you want to climb harder and your partner doesn't?
Does your boyfriend have any problems with you climbing with other men?
How do you maintain a relationship with someone who is no longer as intensely interested in the same sport? We're both busy weekday office slaves. What little time we share used to be spent climbing. How do you make it all work with a non-climbing partner?

Thanks for listening.


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By Lacie
Jul 7, 2011

Wow. I was in that exact position once. He introduced me to climbing and I became obsessed. In the beginning it was perfect having a boy I was fully comfortable with climbing and while not climbing. His interest in climbing began to fade while mine was still growing exponentially. Ultimately the relationship failed. He was fine with me going off climbing with other guys became he knew who I was coming home to, he became more ok with the fact that I could climb harder and was buffer than he was, but I was not willing to give up climbing on my weekends (after slaving away during the week) to watch movies and veg out with him. Wasn't going to happen. It was offered that he go hike or read a book while I go off and do my thing, but after a few months...relationship over. Now I have met guys through climbing and turns out that sucks too when you actually try to climb with them. Even if you are on the same level. I'm not saying your relationship will fail, but I think you have to think about those weekends that you say see later when I'm back from my climbing trip. It isn't the guys you are with or that fact that you are totally more badass than he is in the climbing world...it's that fact you chose climbing over him. And well...my final 2 cents after worthless speal..what are you willing to walk away from time after time..climbing or some dude (probably not just some dude to you, I know). At some point you'll walk away from one them a few times too many and either he is suffering or you are. Anyhoo good luck and if anyone has some real advice I'd actually like to hear it.


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By Alicia Sokolowski
From Brooklyn, NY
Jul 7, 2011
Hanging out waiting for Die Antwoord to come on stage

I don't think it is about the climbing. It is the person just not matching up with you.

I climb with my husband, but he likes other sports and I have pretty much given up all other hobbies for climbing. Therefore, I have more vacation to spend on rock than he does. So I climb with him, but I also climb with a number of other people, some girls, some guys, sometimes I go on trips not even knowing for sure who I'll end up climbing with.

Just this year, I went to Red Rock without him and met up randomly with some good folks. I also climb at our local crag with a couple people I met here and a couple of folks from our gym. He has never asked if I am climbing with a man or a woman, just if I know if they are safe, have I seen them belay and who is leading first.

Some women, and it sounds like you might be one, need space to work on their own priorities. I am certainly cut from this cloth. There are plenty of guys that will give you the freedom to do so, and I hope you find a good one.

If you're already to the point that you're turning to an internet forum to figure out your relationship, it's really not looking good long term.

Oh yeah, and 5+ hours to the crag? If you like climbing this much, while you're considering sweeping life changes, maybe move closer to the rock :)

  • edit - I do not climb harder than my husband, outside, we tend to climb all the same routes. Didn't want to mislead by posting under this thread title.


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By rob bauer
From Golden, CO
Jul 7, 2011

A guy responds. Skip it if you want, but hey, we're all a little sensitive to spouses spending a lot of time away, especially doing something so rewarding for you apart from them. (My wife sure used to, and sometimes still thinks of it as a "climbing or me" scenerio, but I've managed to stay together with my non-climbing partner for 30 years because of shared core values.) Their part is knowing it makes you happy and is a big part of who you are. (Our part is to compensate when we are there, and through words and actions prove that we're in the relationship for the long-haul.) It takes time and commitment to do both, but you either work it out or you don't. Earlier is better. Alicia's points are well taken, from my pespective. If he doesn't have your best interests in mind, and can't get around the time away, well, there are changes ahead for the both of you. Have that adult conversation and see what he imagined for the years ahead, what his fears are, and see what happens.

We're all in this together, but it doesn't feel like it sometimes. Good luck.


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By 1Eric Rhicard
Jul 8, 2011
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo

+1 to what Rob said. Used to wish my wife climbed. As my wife says, I married a climber why would I expect him to stay home when he could be climbing. We are secure enough to let each other pursue our passions. It has been working for the last 30 years.


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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Jul 8, 2011
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...

Alicia Sokolowski wrote:
Some women, and it sounds like you might be one, need space to work on their own priorities. I am certainly cut from this cloth. There are plenty of guys that will give you the freedom to do so


You sure about that? I for one would not be down with a girlfriend camping with a bunch of dudes. I've seen the red carpet treatment even remotely attractive girls get on climbing trips.


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By Jamie Henrichsen
From Lake Morena, CA
Jul 8, 2011
Mexican Border Fence

You gotta have the adult talk with your partner. If you like him then consider teaching him how to aid or jug behind you on the routes you want to do.

It's a tough thing taking someone out climbing who does not want to be there. It's more like a recipe for disaster.

Edited to add: You might want to brush up on setting up an assisted hoist. Works great getting your partner up a difficult section and you have 2/3's of your rope available.


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By Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Jul 8, 2011
Me and Spearhead

Lace sums it up pretty well. Relationships w/ a non-climber or w/ a climber can both be difficult for various reasons... it really comes down to what's most important to you.

I think that there was a thread awhile back where someone was asking "what have you given up for climbing?" Interesting question really, for those of us that choose to put climbing first. Sounds like that's really the question you've got to answer for yourself... does climbing or a relationship come first?


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By Alicia Sokolowski
From Brooklyn, NY
Jul 8, 2011
Hanging out waiting for Die Antwoord to come on stage

Rob Gordon wrote:
You sure about that? I for one would not be down with a girlfriend camping with a bunch of dudes. I've seen the red carpet treatment even remotely attractive girls get on climbing trips.


That ends really quickly, at least in my case. The last camping and climbing trip where I was the only girl, I hauled everyone else's stuff and my own to the site and set up everyone's tents because I can often get off work early on a Friday and no one else could.

Maybe the first couple times you get a little special treatment, but eventually you are just one of the crowd, which is just the way I like it.


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By Evan1984
Jul 8, 2011

This is a guys take:

1. I think your(yours and his) overall dissatisfaction with the current situation is more a commentary on the relationship than the time spent climbing apart or the fact that you climb harder than he does. It sounds like your relationship was built on a common interest in climbing. Now that the interest is not as shared, you either need to cultivate other mutual activities or put more enery into the interests that remain.

2. I feel the same way about girls who climb harder than I do as I do about women who make more money. ATTRACTIVE!

3. Alicia- yes, we know and trust that our partners are strictly platonic with other men. But, we reserve the right to not like it when they are hanging out with them. We're hard wired that way. We can't help it, but really appreciate it when women humor these insecurities.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Jul 8, 2011
Stabby

Why are so many guys posting here? "A question for women who...."


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By Tradoholic
Jul 8, 2011

Mike Lane wrote:
Why are so many guys posting here? "A question for women who...."


Cause MP is a total sausage fest.

But seriously I think the problem is similar enough Man to Womyn as it is Womyn to Man for these sausages to comment.

First, if it's all about how the guy can't pull 5.10, well that can be fixed by a little hauling, but that isn't the issue is it? The issue is that guy doesn't want to climb at all. Correct? He wants to hang at home and watch TV. Ergo, it's not the climbing that's the problem, it's the lifestyle.

My wife is perfectly happy coming out climbing and hanging out at the bottom belaying, chatting, hiking, whatever and then meeting up later for dinner. However, if I was climbing with a bunch of supermodels and not grungy hobos that might change ;)

If guy doesn't even want to come out and hangout while others climb, this is gonna be tough. There's only so many hours in a weekend and climbing takes alot of them so keeping him happy with together time will be a challenge, but climbers are usually up for a challenge. Good luck!


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By Legs Magillicutty
From Littleton
Jul 8, 2011
Function over fashion.  My newest pair of climbing shoes.

Perhaps climbing with happily married men or men who are in secure, committed relationships might ease his pain while watching you drive off to climb with other males. Are there other activities that he could participate in close to the areas where you climb, like mountain biking, trail running, hiking, beach? Maybe there is a way he could come along so he can spend the evenings with you, while he gets out during the day to do something that is better suited for him. When you have these kind of tough conversations with him, it may be wise to gently remind him that you are still the same person that he fell for and that is a climber. Ask him for suggestions too.


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By rangerdrew
From Loveland
Jul 8, 2011
Evans Aprons

She would only have one or two responses if guys didn't answer.

My girlfriend always gives me a hard time for not leading grades which I am capable. 5.10+, but she doesn't lead at all. She wants to climb harder routes, but I'm more of a trad guy, (breaking into 5.9) and don't climb sport nearly enough to be proficient at harder grades. My question to the OP: Are you leading the harder routes or just following. Your post wasn't too specific.

You shouldn't feel guilty about climbing with guys. He will hate it. I always hate thinking of my girlfriend climbing with other dudes, but she comes home to me so its not really a big deal. Plus I climb with other guys all the time. If the situation was reversed, I would definitely understand if she felt wierd about me climbing with girls (that's how our relationship started anyway). I'd probably feel a little guilty climbing with other girls.

I'd say put on the big girl pants and talk about it with him. Losing my girlfriend to another guy for a weekend would be pretty rough, but so would the 5 hour drive just to climb. I'm lucky I can be climbing in 30 minutes.


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By Katie Press
Jul 8, 2011

You said you've posted looking for other women climbers... have you considered attending women-only trips? www.chickswithpicks.net/

While I'm not in the exact position you are (since I'm not dating anyone presently), I climb with nearly all guys. Their interest ebbs and flows depending on the season, so I'm always stuck in the position of needing to meet new climbers...


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By Katie Press
Jul 8, 2011

You said you've posted looking for other women climbers... have you considered attending women-only trips? www.chickswithpicks.net/

While I'm not in the exact position you are (since I'm not dating anyone presently), I climb with nearly all guys. Their interest ebbs and flows depending on the season, so I'm always stuck in the position of needing to meet new climbers...


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By sawtoothski
Jul 8, 2011

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. And I'm not surprised since MP attracts generally helpful people, but well, I posted about relationship advice. Gross. Trust me, I'm must more excited asking about gear beta.

Yes, I climb predominately trad while he mostly sport. Leading is what I love to do, but he runs into a lot of frustration on the style of climbing I really enjoy. I'm not a fan of face climbing, but I did sport climb with him most of last fall because I wanted to spend time with him. This year, I want to continue to break harder grades. Two weekends ago we were "That Couple". I just barely sent a route, which subsequently led to a difficult follow for him. I know what it feels like having to top rope something way out of my grade range. Frankly, it's frustrating and humiliating more often than it is humbling and fun. To me, that is. And for him, too. Probably not the way to look at climbing like that, I realize, but we're human. We're emotional and defensive. Most people don't want to be "hoisted up", jug a route or be dragged up by their girlfriend, let alone partner.

I'm not going to air out my clean laundry here, but trust me when I say that a lot of the good details were left out. A great relationship is worth fighting for. It's just hard when climbing is a huge factor in the scheme of things.

As for the group situation, it's easy to find folks to crag with, but my main interest falls in line with grade IV+ routes. While I have never encountered an awkward situation with a partner of the opposite sex, I can really understand his position on feeling upset when I'm intensely spending a large sum of time with another man. This isn't golfing or hiking. Climbing typically involves two people in an intimate setting. I empathize. Although we are both generally not of the jealous nature, I, too, would be uncomfortable if he spent more than every other weekend with another woman. Especially if she climbed harder. It's not a trust issue, it's a priority issue. Where do you spend the time. How hard do you fight. Where do you compromise. I guess that is a conversation I need to have with him and not you all, but I appreciate the feedback.

Thanks,
J


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By JamesMichelinie
Jul 8, 2011

disclaimer: guy

It's been said already, but the bottom line is that one thing has to be the top priority in your life. Climbing or your relationship. The other will be compromised. I started climbing with my fiance and my interest has flourished while hers has faded. So I don't climb as often as I would if I were single. I don't care at all! I still climb at a gym 2-3 times a week and outside a few times a month. When I don't climb, it's not because she is holding me back, it's because spending time with her is the most wonderful thing I could possibly imagine doing with my time. We have some shared interests and some independent but when push comes to shove the relationship is so much more important than any hobby or passion for us. I hope this helps.

Cheers,
James


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By alpinista83
From San Francisco, CA
Jul 8, 2011
Levitating

Although never been in your situation, I empathize. You articulate yourself well, so I doubt that you will have trouble discussing your valid concerns with him. It's the broach the subject part that takes courage. If your relationship is worth fighting for, then it's worth talking about openly. Yes?

And to defend the other side of the coin, almost all of my partners are men, most of whom are married or have girlfriends. None of their real life partners have ever had a problem with me. But I'm kind of a dirtbagging hag and they're all clean and well mannered, so I'm non-threatening to say the least. In fact, many are happy coming along and hanging out on the ground reading books or going for hikes. They understand how important climbing is to their partner. A good counterpart, whether he climbs or not, should know and respect this. You, in turn, have to take some time out of your weekday schedule to show him that you love him and not just tell him that you love him.

My climbing is all based on platonic partnerships with men that have supportive spouses and/or girlfriends. We like climbing. It doesn't have to be complex. Looks like your issue is time management and dealing with relationship insecurities. I think most couples, climbing and non-climbing alike, come face to face with such conflicts at some point. Make time after work and do stuff. Bring your partners back to hang out together and show him how benign your relationship is with your climbing partner. Sure, climbing is an intimate sport, but it's pretty brotherly out there. We smell. It's not exactly like we're in dating mode after days of not showering and bleeding out of multiple appendages.

I've done grade V climbs with men that were and are still happily in personal relationships. You can assure him, while it may be intense, you are coming home to him. And well, you know, showered.

Good luck, J!

Cheers,
Dr. Phil


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By Ryan Nevius
From The Range of Light
Jul 8, 2011
Mt. Agassiz

JamesMichelinie wrote:
disclaimer: guy It's been said already, but the bottom line is that one thing has to be the top priority in your life. Climbing or your relationship. The other will be compromised. I started climbing with my fiance and my interest has flourished while hers has faded. So I don't climb as often as I would if I were single. I don't care at all! I still climb at a gym 2-3 times a week and outside a few times a month. When I don't climb, it's not because she is holding me back, it's because spending time with her is the most wonderful thing I could possibly imagine doing with my time. We have some shared interests and some independent but when push comes to shove the relationship is so much more important than any hobby or passion for us. I hope this helps. Cheers, James


This is solid advice / information.


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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Jul 8, 2011
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...

Alicia Sokolowski wrote:
That ends really quickly, at least in my case. The last camping and climbing trip where I was the only girl, I hauled everyone else's stuff and my own to the site and set up everyone's tents because I can often get off work early on a Friday and no one else could. Maybe the first couple times you get a little special treatment, but eventually you are just one of the crowd, which is just the way I like it.


By red carpet treatment, I really meant, the girls get hit on non-stop. Grungy and dirty or not. Honestly, if you're a single girl looking for love, camp at The Pit or Yosemite for a season. It's not just a jealousy thing... You spend enough time away from someone and a lot of time around fit chill people with a common interest, it's only a matter of time before you meet someone that makes you get a little weak in the knees. It's like the Hollywood issue of working on a film and doing love scenes with your hot costar... Next thing you know you're on the cover of some tabloid and your ex is the little picture in the corner.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jul 8, 2011
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

Jasmine Kall wrote:
.. and usually try to climb with guys who are totally not my type.

Ouch! I bet those guys loved reading that. LOL


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By Tradster
From Phoenix, AZ
Jul 8, 2011

My wife knew I was a climber when we married some 25 years ago. I tried to get her into climbing, but she does get a bit of vertigo and didn't like it. I love mountain biking, but she's not a bicyclist either. However, over these years I've gone on 15 or 20 multi-day trips where she didn't go along because it was either mountain biking or climbing. Yet, she's backpacked a 50# pack in for ten days in the Sierras while I climbed with a buddy, spent a week at Red Rocks doing the same. She went hiking, played with our Labs, read books and had a great time. This has been the case on many weekends. Plus she knows every one I do anything outdoors with. That gives her a comfort level about my riskier outdoor endeavors. She understands the nature of risk, as we have done some crazy dangerous travel overseas together: fast boat down the Mekong River (deaths happen nearly every two weeks...three tourists died the day after we went down the river on a fast boat); bus ride in Laos with the chance of attacks by insurgents; really dangerous four wheel drive roads. She has moxie and that counts for plenty.

I've seen many relationships sour due to selfishness, usually by the climber in the relationship totally blowing off their spouse and only doing what interests them. I've gone climbing with both genders and she's never had a problem with that.

I love hanging with my wife and we find plenty of things to do together: flat water kayaking, bagging 14teeners in Colorado, backpacking, two weeks trips to go hiking, art museums, botantical gardens, etc. I am lucky because we give each other enough space to do our own things when needed.

The whole thing centers around both compromise and balance. If your companion, spouse, etc means enough to you, you will find that proper balance and make things work. If your SO doesn't climb and that is all you like to do, the relationship will eventually fail. So really it becomes a matter of priorities: is he/she or climbing more important? In my case, I'd rather be with the best woman in the world and give and take through out life, then be by myself. Besides, she's about the only one who'd put up my all my crap, but then, I put up with hers, too. Balance and compromise...ying and yang. It isn't easy, but it is worth it. Like Jimi Hendrix said: "Lonliness is such a drag."


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By Will Butler
From Boulder, CO
Jul 8, 2011
ice park

I'd be totally cool with my girlfriend going out climbing with other guys as long as those guys are weaker than me.


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By alpinista83
From San Francisco, CA
Jul 8, 2011
Levitating

Jasmine Kall wrote:
When I do climb with guys I make sure he knows ahead of time and usually try to climb with guys who are totally not my type.


Is your boyfriend a reckless, poor communicator with no sense of humor? ;)

I don't know about you, but I look for almost the exact same qualities in a platonic climbing partner as I do with a non-climbing romantic partner. I guess the only difference between the two is our sincere, mutual disinterest in wanting to see each other naked. I'm guessing you meant not "your type" as in aesthetically speaking. Fair enough.


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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Jul 8, 2011
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...

alpinista83 wrote:
Is your boyfriend a reckless, poor communicator with no sense of humor? ;) I don't know about you, but I look for almost the exact same qualities in a platonic climbing partner as I do with a non-climbing romantic partner.


Clever.


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