If you’re dating someone who is not as into fitness as you — you thrive in the gym, they thrive on the couch — there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid issues and nurture your relationship.
“Dating someone who has different interests than you is often no big deal, but when it comes to fitness, it can be challenging,” says certified matchmaker and relationship expert Amber Lee. “When you are into fitness it is more than just a hobby; It’s a lifestyle. If your health is a priority and your partner’s is not, it can create conflict.”
Time constraints, food selection, and money can make you feel like you have to choose between your fitness goals and relationship. For example, you may be willing to splurge on a personal trainer, organic groceries. and supplements while your partner thinks it’s excessive. Perhaps your idea of the perfect date night involves a healthy meal and an early bedtime while your partner wants to stay up late and order pizza.
“Most of the women I’ve dated have not been into fitness as much as I am. Fewer people hit the gym in this world than do,” says Steven Mack, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of Simple Solutions Fitness. “Some clients struggle with dating someone who doesn’t value working out as much as they do. It especially becomes a point of friction the more motivated they grow.”
It can be especially tricky if your commitment to working out and eating healthy increases during the relationship, too. When you’re single and meeting people, you can choose to date people who are as invested in their health and fitness as you are, but if you’re already with your partner and you wish they would join you on a fitness journey, you may need to compromise.
Below, we have a few pieces of advice to follow while dating someone who might not as into fitness as you.
Don’t make your partner do something they don’t want to do
“The most important thing you can remember about dating someone who shares a different passion is to acknowledge that they don’t have to change,” says Mack. “If you wanted someone into fitness, you could’ve been dating someone who was already into fitness. That might not be the person you’re dating now. You can’t force anyone to change.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting the person you love to take care of their health, but they have to do it for themselves (and for the right reasons).
“You should want your partner to get into fitness for positive reasons,” adds Mack. “Wanting to change the way they look is not one of those.”
If your partner expresses interest in joining your health and fitness journey, provide support and encouragement rather than unsolicited advice or criticism.
“Never judge or criticize your partner while you are working out together,” states Lee. “Instead, give them encouragement. They can’t hold a plank for over a minute or squat deep enough? So what! Show support and be their biggest cheerleader as they get into shape.”
It’s also important to set your partner up for success by making sure any routines you embark on together are sustainable and fun instead of intimidating.
“If your partner is not a morning person, don’t invite them to join you for a 5 A.M. workout,” she continues. “Ask your partner what time they would like to work out and compromise by letting them choose the time.”
Do things together that you both enjoy
If you are going to exercise together, you’ll want to find things you both enjoy.
“I always encourage couples to share their passions with each other,” says Lee. “If you want your partner to enjoy fitness, make it fun. Invite them to a class you know they will love or go for a hike together to get started. The key is to have fun together while you’re working out and to ease them into a fitness routine.”
Don’t judge if they can’t keep up
At the end of the day, your partner doesn’t have to adopt the exact same routines as you. Shared activities might be a fun way to explore things and bond, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have to stick to working out together at all times.
You can still enjoy strength training while they embrace a newfound love for yoga. Regardless of what happens, the one thing you’ll want to avoid at all costs is being judgmental or manipulating your partner into embracing specific habits.
Be flexible with your routine
You may also want to be flexible about your own routine. If hitting the gym six times a week is interfering with time spent together as a couple, it’s fair to adjust your schedule to make space for your partner’s needs.
“You may need to negotiate a time you can go to the gym. This might involve budging on how often you’re willing to go,” says Mack. “For example, if you know that you could get all of your sets in over 3-4 days but you enjoy going every day, you may choose to go less often as a part of your commitment to being in this relationship.”
Strive for a balance between respecting each other’s individuality and finding common ground.