There’s a certain joy in sharing hobbies. The excitement of introducing someone to the activities that bring you joy. And it sucks when they say no.
You’re pedaling along or paddling out, thinking to yourself, “How does it get any better than this? Now I have someone to share my adventures with!” That feeling only gets better when that someone is your life partner.
Or, so I’m told. I only know this from rumors, of course.
As you’ve no doubt guessed, mine is not a success story. My attempt to get my partner to take up running, my joy, was a downright failure — with a capital F.
So, I’d like to use this as an opportunity to share my hard-earned wisdom. Should you want to get your partner to take up whatever activity you most enjoy, hopefully, you’ll learn from my mistakes.
The Idea: Run With Your Partner
It was a couple of weeks before New Year’s Eve 2020 when I had a brilliant idea. Thinking about the new year ahead and what goals I had for myself — foremost among them being to run more — inspiration struck: I should ask my partner to run with me! We could start the year in a healthy way, share a (new for him) hobby, and enjoy each other’s company.
I enjoy running for several reasons. It maintains my tenuous hold on sanity, it mellows me out, and it’s a great workout you can do just about anywhere and with no equipment except a decent pair of shoes.
I floated the idea by him, making sure to emphasize that I would encourage and assist him where I could. And to help keep us both accountable, I pitched the idea of turning it into a story. He said he was on board, so I began to lay out my plans.
The first part of my plan was to make sure my partner had the right gear. I knew two things: presents make great motivation, and he desperately needed new running shoes.
I opted for the HOKA ONE ONE Rincon; it’s a great road shoe that can also transition to groomed trails and fire roads. So, if necessary, we could switch up the terrain.
I also got him a pair of SAXX Kinetic Sport shorts. Lightweight, breathable, and supportive, I knew they’d feel great on cool and warmer days.
The second part of my plan was timing. I wanted to pin this endeavor around the new year, when resolutions are at an all-time high and motivation to change is at its peak.
I figured the communal wave of inspiration, mixed with guilt, would provide the proverbial wind at our backs we’d need to jumpstart our shared hobby-dom.
Finally, the third piece of my plan was to simply bring my partner along on runs I already took. I knew which routes were more challenging (also more scenic) and which could be completed by even a small child. He’s naturally athletic and although he’s not a runner, I figured he would at least be able to keep up with an intermediate like me.
Where I Failed (and You Can Succeed)
My failures during this experiment were numerous and will be cataloged in no particular order. Learn from my mistakes!
I Assumed My Partner Would Enjoy Running
I’m not sure what I was thinking here. Maybe the giddiness at my own clever idea of sharing a new hobby overrode the very clear fact that there was a reason my partner didn’t already run with me — he didn’t want to.
Despite knowing very well that, in his 37 years on Earth, he had never once shown an inclination for running, I remained undeterred in my quest to share a new hobby. I see now that may have been the first sign this was not to be.
Even if your partner is trying to be supportive of your harebrained ideas, you should probably check that they aren’t just being nice. Ask them if they actually want to join you in your hobby. It’ll save time and effort down the line.
I Neglected to Make a Schedule
What’s the best way to maintain a habit? Consistency! How can you maintain consistency? Make a schedule and stick to it.
I neglected to lay out firm plans, which gave us ample reason to skip runs, not stay accountable, and make other plans.
If you want to make a habit stick, do your prep work. Agree to a schedule. Plan ahead and stick to it. Make sharing a priority, not just a goal.
I Focused on the Future Rather Than the Present
In my mind’s eye, my partner and I were running down mountainous trails, dry desert valleys, and alongside picturesque bodies of water — with perfect form, no less. This could have been a reality (eventually), but I needed to lay the groundwork first.
I needed to motivate and encourage my partner. I needed to make room and time for his training. I needed to be more aware of my present, to build to that future.
Focus on the present, and take things one step at a time. Be attentive to your partner’s needs and unique challenges. And make your own goals flexible enough to accommodate them.
I Expected My Partner to Motivate Himself
I will preface this by saying that my partner (and probably yours) is entirely capable of self-motivation. But when it came time to invite him to share my hobby, I needed to do the leg work (pun intended) to keep him excited and willing to keep trying. Suffice to say, this did not happen.
It’s hard enough to maintain our own hobbies, let alone someone else’s. Cut your partner some slack and keep the motivation high — little victories should become big victories. The extra effort on your part will make a world of difference.
My partner and I still share many hobbies: camping, biking, yoga, and overlanding, to name a few. It seems, though, that running was not meant to make this list, and that’s okay.
The bottom line is that even if you try (and fail) to get your partner to take up your hobby, in the end, you’re still trying something new. You’re both willing to learn and grow … and sometimes, the failures teach us more than the successes ever could.
So, suggest something new to your partner, or express curiosity in one of their hobbies. You never know where it’ll lead.