Hi Hayley,

My boyfriend and I have been together for years and we both like staying active. However, he likes (and excels) at team sports such as baseball, volleyball and golf, whereas I prefer running and yoga. Sometimes we sign up for events together, like a baseball tourney or a race. The problem is, he is much more competitive than me, as well as physically strong and determined. Whenever we do these activities together I end up feeling discouraged and disappointing since he is way better than me and cares so much more, when I'm happy to just have fun and take it easy. He in turn gets upset that I'm upset and not having fun anymore. My question is: should I keep trying harder to improve at these activities that we can share, and suck up my negative feelings? Or should I just accept that we react differently to competitive situations and choose other activities to share that do not require this kind of pressure?




This reminds me of my last relationship and one of the main reasons why we probably did not work out. Neither one of us could let go of our competitive attitudes and just enjoy being able to be active together. He would not play volleyball with me as he said I was not good enough and he could not win if I was on his team (even though it was just recreational volleyball and I did play college back in the day). He would not snowboard with me because he said I sucked and he hated having to wait for me and if we would go running together I had to run just a little bit faster than him. Never were we able to go out and simply enjoy being active together, which in my opinion is a must for a healthy relationship.

It is great that the two of you enjoy being active together but you need to accept each other’s abilities and stop putting so much pressure on yourself to keep up or to win. I see this all the time in the couples I train: the women works her butt off in her training and her partner basically just shows up to the start line of whatever they are competing in with zero training and blows her out of the water.  (Lainey: um, are you talking about me and Jacek, because I KICK HIS ASS.) Continue to focus on your loves (running and yoga), allow him continue to excel in team sports and then come together for other activities and have fun. 

Men physiologically are stronger than us. They have more muscle mass so they can generate more brute power and they have a greater V02 max (to name a few differences). You won’t catch him, so you need to stop being so competitive with yourself, go out and do the best you can do and then rejoice together in the accomplishments.

It’s a change your outlook. Instead of putting the entire focus on competing with him, enjoy the journey of getting to the start line together. Enjoy the training you do together, the conversations you have about the event, the people you meet during the activity and forget about winning. Be proud of him for how well he does and allow him to be proud of you for how well you do. Show up together to whatever event you are competing in, wish each other well and then do your own thing, meeting back at the finish line with big smiles and high fives.