Dating through apps and online can sometimes feel like being caught in a constant current, treading water just to stay afloat. But when you know that you and the faces you are searching share a similar or common priority, it can make the search a little easier, almost like a life raft being thrown to you. Almost a year ago, when I went on the dating app Hinge, there were many attractive men in the never-ending sea of profiles, but their pictures were all I had to go on. It seemed rather hopeless with regards to finding a match that could actually lead to a meaningful connection. Until, one in particular stood out. In addition to liking what he said in his bio and thinking he was quite cute, he had a few pictures of him running marathons and doing other races. Health and fitness is a priority of mine, so I was immediately drawn to him. And it wasn't just because it was clear fitness is a priority to him too; it was also because to train for a marathon takes discipline, motivation, and dedication. And to me, that's sexy. We're now in a relationship, and I really believe one part of why our relationship is so strong and happy is because of the priority we both place on an active lifestyle.
If it's a priority to you, then I think dating someone as activity and fitness minded as yourself has the more likely potential to lead to a successful long-term relationship than otherwise. Here's why:
Your Priorities Match Up
It is important for those in a relationship to have similar lifestyle priorities. For example, if his or her priority is to lie on the couch all weekend, and yours is to be outside doing something active, there might be a problem. When you already know that you and a potential partner have similar priorities with regards to lifestyle and health, it sets you up for a win.
Since my boyfriend and I started dating, a good chunk of his time has been taken up by training for one event or another. To someone who fitness isn't a priority to, it would be easy to get resentful or hurt, thinking that their partner's priority is their training, and not them. Yes, my boyfriend's training can be very time consuming and has sometimes meant a sacrifice of our time together, but rather than bother me, I support it, because fitness is important to me as well. And I know it's not a choice between me and the training; they are completely separate things.
Also, we both know how important getting a work out in is to each other, and therefore, work to accommodate (and sometimes make sacrifices) for the other to be able to do that, without a complaint.... even when it seems nearly impossible to do so because we are raising a new little puppy who needs constant attention. When this is a priority both partners have and understand, we can help our significant other do what they need to do to take the best care of themselves, and vice versa.
Keeps Things Fresh
When two people in a relationship are active and fitness minded, they can find new activities to do together. This contributes greatly to keeping the relationship from getting boring. Plus, it has been proven that experiencing something new together activates both adrenaline and other senses, creating memories and deepening a couple's bond.
Pushes You to Be Your Best
I have always believed that a relationship is a vehicle in which people can grow to become their best selves. Lots of times, this is through pain, such as becoming aware of, and healing, our emotional triggers and vulnerabilities. But it can also be through active things. And personally, I have always wanted a partner who would push me - gently - to be the best me.
For the past few months, I've been feeling like I've hit a plateau not only in my own fitness, but in my life in general, and my boyfriend has encouraged me to give myself a fitness goal to try to snap myself out of this funk. He challenged me to train for a 10K we can run together, which definitely pushes me outside of my comfort zone. There is immense self-confidence that is born when goals are achieved after hard work, and achieving that goal in fitness helps you feel empowered to achieve goals in other areas of your life. The influence of a partner is that they can nudge you lovingly into setting those goals and committing to reaching them.
Makes You More Attractive to Your Partner
Studies show that couples feel more in love and satisfied with their relationships after doing a physical activity together. Also, the physiological effect of the activity increases your attractiveness to your partner... score!
Deepens Your Bond and Creates a Unified Team
There is power in making a commitment and working together for a common goal, like competing as a couple, running a race, etc., and achieving it. It not only deepens the trust and connection between partners, it's also pretty darn sexy to see your partner set a goal and work to nail it, just as it is sexy to your partner to see you do the same.
I've said many times that I believe the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So, if you and your significant other are committed to achieving a fitness or activity goal together, then the way you tackle that is the way you will tackle the adversities that life throws at you. You know that you can face challenges together and get through them, as a team. Through this, you also learn how to work together and communicate with each other, and how to best support, encourage, and push each other, because we are all different with regards to what motivates us. Having this information about our significant other crosses over to any other kind of challenge or conflict that may occur in the relationship.
Also, something cool that happens when you work out together is that your movements may begin to be coordinated, like keeping the same pace while running or biking, or lifting weights to the same rhythm. This is called "nonverbal matching," and partners feel more bonded and connected to their significant other because of it.
So, taking all of this into account, having experienced the benefits of a partner who also places an active lifestyle as a priority, if I were to approach the dating apps now, I see how important it is to begin with a common ground. There are apps that match by religion, veganism, music preferences, spiritual beliefs, and so on, but if those don't resonate with you, there aren't many other options. Yes, many sites give questionnaires, matching by behavior and compatibility based on the answers, however, that is different than starting with a common priority. But I recently heard of a new app called Jabo, which, if I were single, would totally jump on. It matches people by fitness and activity level.
The user inputs his or her favorite physical activities, the age range, and distance of potential matches, and browses profiles that fit those criteria. When two people like each other's profiles, they get matched. Also, the app collects data from Apple Health, and eventually other wearable devices, which it uses in part to calculate the compatibility score between two people. Once two people match, one sends the other an "activity date" invitation, suggesting a physical activity for their first date. I think starting off like this can definitely increase the odds for success in both matching and in a potential relationship.
I chose Hinge over the other dating apps because I felt at least like I was meeting people in my general circle, but it was still a crap shoot. I got lucky that my guy and I managed to find each other through the smorgasbord of what felt like window-shopping. However, with an app like Jabo, which already starts with a common priority to both parties, the odds of making a true match increase greatly, and it's not just putting your trust in the hands of fate anymore. Yes, you still get to see their pictures- which, come on, we all know is important - but you're seeing the pictures knowing you already have an interest in common. So, for an active, fitness-minded person looking for a meaningful connection, I really think this would be the way to go.
Jabo (www.jaboapp.com) is still in beta and currently available in South Florida, but will be released in new locations at the end of the year. But you can download the app now to be put on the waiting list; if you're single and fitness is important in your life, I'd say - Just Do It (or was that Nike?).