As a newly single “fitness person”, I’ve recently been working on identifying what is most important in a partner for me. Just how crucial is commonality when it comes to fitness and nutrition in a successful relationship? For me, it’s a dealbreaker if my partner doesn’t support my lifestyle. I wondered if other people felt this way, too. Naturally, I turned to Facebook to get answers.
In only a few hours, I received over 30 written responses to my question, with some great insight. However, fearing that my poll was a bit biased based on my personal network of mostly fit folks, I decided to ask a professional her thoughts on the subject.
Relationship coach and intimacy expert, Colette Davenport, revealed to me that couples struggle when values aren’t aligned. “When one is more dedicated to wellness than the other, I often hear complaints related to shared goals. Plus, they believe that if their partner would do ‘x’ with them (workout, play sports, eat healthy, etc), it would strengthen their bond. There’s a high value placed on wellness for some and where compatibility, goals, and mutual intentions are concerned, a mismatch here can create a disconnect.”
So what happens when one person in a relationship becomes passionate about health and fitness, or is looking for growth in this area of their life, when their partner is not? Davenport says, “Both people have to be mutually excited about each other’s pursuits or they can find themselves moving in different directions and possibly become resentful.” If you want to keep your relationship strong while your partner is working on their personal goals, you need to become their cheerleader and be willing and able to pick up the slack if needed. You should be an advocate for their growth, even if you do not share the same individual goals.
If you’re a supportive partner or if you have one, there’s no need to worry. But if you and your partner find yourselves drifting apart due to different health and fitness values, it’s quite possible to find that intimacy and support at the gym. Davenport calls it “the transference effect” and says that it’s a very real occurrence when someone goes through a life change and is having regular vulnerable experiences with someone in their life. We all know there is some level of vulnerability when you workout with a coach or in a group setting. This is where the attraction happens. “The coach is lighting the way for people to become the best version of themselves. In addition to the feel-good hormones released during exercise, achieving fitness goals can be really emotional, which can get projected onto the coach,” Davenport says. That good feeling can turn into desire and in some cases, real love, when the feeling is mutual.
If you’re single and looking for a partner, decide first what values are most important to you. If fitness is very important to you, you should seek that out in a partner so that you have commonality on your side. Mutual respect, understanding, and support are very strong foundational pillars for any successful relationship. If you’re in a relationship where one of you is more focused on fitness than the other, make sure you encourage one another and support endeavors that allow your partner to find growth and satisfaction.