Climbing & Relationships


Disclaimer: This is a touchy subject, in which many may classify as
a very subjective & personal topic. But I want to express that there is
more to the climbing lifestyle than rocks & rope.
So here I am laying my emotions, expressions & opinions down.
So just hear me out, if you desire.

In the past couple years climbing has become an important part of my life… moreover daily life. It impacts almost everything and everyone I interact with. To the point where my mood is directly linked if I got to touch real rock or plastic that week. Speaking further, there is an interesting section of my life that climbing has drastically altered: relationships. The pool of “reasonable” men to date has bottle-necked. For the reason: climbing is more than a sport at this point, its a lifestyle. There are a few separate and individual reasons how/why my world of dating transformed.

  1. The physical aspect of it all. (All the feminists can talk hate on me, but this is how I see it) Before climbing I had a very VERY skinny physique. I stayed relatively healthy and never exercised. Godbless my parent’s chromosomes for high metabolism genes leading to my daintiness. Climbing and nothing else made me lose the little amount of fat I had, then gained MASSIVE muscles on my forearms and abs.
    With that background info stated… This bullet point #1 arises from a guy I dated who was significantly “less buff” than I. I wasn’t bothered by this… but here lies the issue: he was more bothered by it than I was. At first we would joke about it, but time went by and I began to see that it genuinely bothered him. To the point where it got in the way of us having a good time. It was most indefinite when taking him out climbing at the gym for the first time. Within five minutes all he did was (jokingly) complain how “your too strong for me… if you grow more muscles you will look like a man…” etc. At that point, I was done.
    Another instance is when I took someone out (whom I was interested in) for a multipitch trad climb. He had a personality I can groove with, but the test is to see if we can climb together well. I first learned I was physically stronger than him. In which the hike to the base of the mountain was too intense for him… while I handled it perfectly fine. Also that I had to rope gun all the pitches, which I was also fine with for a 5.8 climb… but its like dang boy. Starting the route I quickly learned that I was also mentally stronger. It was first belay station of the multipitch climb, with two bolts and one chain on a hanger. I lead that first pitch and set a bomber anchor with a cordalette at the belay station. A huge ledge gave me a very comfortable stance to bring him up. Once he followed up to the anchors he started freaking out and getting scared of how high we were. He became sloppy transferring belays and and still got sketched out with the bolted anchors. In all combination, the whole situation was a major turnoff. I am not (entirely) a shallow person mind you. A good conversation, good time & trust are the most important to me in partner. But hey, I like to feel like my partner could defend me & out climb me if I needed him to… and not the other way around.  But, in all aspects I am fully aware that this reason is solely physical and nothing else.
  2. Dating “non-climbers”. As stated earlier, climbing isn’t just a sport… its a lifestyle. I found that my daily life changed once I started climbing routinely. I do have a life outside of climbing. I’m a full time college student studying Biochemisty, and I have a job as a creative director on Youtube (
    • So my weekday is as follows: wakeup -> school -> errands -> gym -> sleep -> repeat.
    • While the weekends are: outdoor climbing trips to god knows where & (maybe) laundry duty.

    Lack of give in my schedule doesn’t allot much time. Reducing my studies is out of the question & I am not very willing to give up climbing time (especially climbing trips). Also, I would always rather spend a day in Jtree getting my tips ripped by the Quartz Moizonite on JBMFP, than go watch a $15 movie I can torrent later or get wasted and what happened the following day. Climbing is a part of my daily life. I think and dream about it all day, all year. This “non-climber” dating no no comes from experience. I was in a serious relationship with someone I truly loved. For some reason I am a very devout person when it comes to relationships. As in, I would want to spend all my time with my significant other. I tried to balance my time with climbing and a relationship. I found out my (at the time) “non-climbing” boyfriend would not appreciate me going out and climbing out with other manly men constantly. I mean hell, I can’t help that majority of the sex in the sport of climbing are men. My motivation and psyche for climbing is fueled by feeding off people’s energy. In all honesty I really do enjoy climbing with guys more, they push me and I like to try to keep up without feeling to be equal or better. Surrounding myself with majority men, in a male dominated sport was inevitable.

  3. Not down for a commitment. Yes, I’m sure there are men that do not fit in this category (or sometimes the timing of the situation is what messes everything up)… but a some out of the few climbing men I attempted to be in a relationship with seemed to follow this same pattern. It all starts out as a dream. I think he’s rad, he thinks i’m rad, everything seems radtastic. We go on climbing dates, dates, blah blah. It works out great, we have our own separate daily lives but at some point during the week can come together and have a great time climbing. Then some time passes, and he gets the vibe I want to have a label and be “exclusive”. Once this stage happens, feelings fade quick. Sketchy McAlister arises, and personality changes.
    3rd time is the charm rite? Psyche. Ive heard the same thing again and again, “I don’t think I’m ready to be in a relationship.” dun Dun DUNNNN. Nonetheless how much that sucks for me, I do have great respect that they expressed their opinion before things continued any further. But it’s just so confusing. Things seemed so right, we had chemistry and can share the same passion. Then the switch is flipped dramatically. We become strangers, again.
    Climbing men are nomads, rocks are their 1st love. Climbing is their #1 girlfriend, anyone else is just a mistress. It seems like the thought of a committed relationship closes them up. They feel that when the title of bf & gf arrives, obligation of a relationship also follows. Which I can understand, because i’ve seen it before. Once friends would get in a relationship… its like they got kidnapped, I never see them around anymore. That being said, climbing men might not be down to get tied down; it might take them away from girlfriend #1, rock climbing.
    I’m not down to be the mistress, so it just never works out after those few weeks/months of attempting to be girlfriend #2. So I just established a rule for myself. No more dating in the gym. Or as my friends bluntly state, “don’t shit where you eat“. As things may seem promising, you never know where it can end. So to avoid another awkward tension, leave gym friends as friends. The fact of the matter is: you see the same people at the gym on a weekly, (or worse) a daily basis. Because trust me…It isn’t fun pretending a person doesn’t exist even though they are climbing 2 feet away from you. So your frequently visited gym = off limits. Thus, dating world bottle-necked further. Geez, if the bottle was necked any further it might as well be a can.

Lastly, I just want to apologize if anyone reading this happened to be offended. It is my honest opinion from experience & has been a topic of discussion many times within my climbing camaraderie. Also, to those men I’ve dated and somehow managed to find and read this, none of these points may apply to you. It is a collective discussion of personal stories from myself or friends. I am still young, no rush to figure out myself and what I really want. I know I don’t need a man to make me fell happy, because climbing & life accomplishments already suffices. But nonetheless…no regrets & no heavy hearts. Still in there being optimistic for future encounters, to keep an open mind. Just go with the flow and see what happens? Right? *sigh*

from the heart of,
-Natalie Duran.