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If you’re a lover of outdoor adventure and looking for a partner who shares your passion, there are seven dates you must go on as your relationship grows from first date to last (whether it ends well or not). These dates are guaranteed to show you who your partner really is and if you have a future together.
Date 1: A Short Hike/Walk
Going on a short hike* is a great way to get to know someone early in the relationship. There is something about walking and talking that relaxes the nerves and helps you open up to the other person. This date is far less awkward than sitting across a dinner table from each other trying not to spill your drink and wondering if there’s food in your teeth.
It’s also a great chance to tell how compatible you are for a second date. My poor friend went on a hike with a guy early in the relationship, and he took off up the trail, leaving her toiling alone for the entire hike! There was no second date.
*If you met online and haven’t actually gotten to know each other, don’t go alone into the wilderness. Stick to parks or other public areas.
Date 2: Climbing
Don’t worry; no need to be an expert at climbing to go on this date. In fact, it’s better for the relationship if you’re not. Most climbing gyms are happy to help you set up a harness and show you basic belaying skills. There’s something to be said about putting your life (or at least your safety) in someone else’s hands (literally). How do they respond if you’re afraid (Mock you? Help you?)? How do you respond if they’re afraid? Do you trust them? Do they let you down—and not gently?
I once went on a singles activity to a local climbing gym. There’s something quite bold or embarrassing about walking up to a complete stranger as a single person and asking them to belay you. It’s definitely a conversation starter!
Date 3: Everything Goes Wrong
I once read a statement in the Louis L’Amour book that has stuck with me for years—although I don’t remember the exact book it came from. It goes something along the lines that you don’t know the full measure of a man until you see him fail. How does your partner handle everything going wrong?
What if you get lost? What if your camping trip turns into a blizzard? What if you forget that delicious lunch you made just for your picnic in the mountains? What if every adventure goes bad and you realize the person you’re dating can’t adult?
How your date responds to the bad things happening or if your date is the cause of all the bad things happening can tell you a lot about that person.
I had a teacher back in high school tell the boys that they should take the girl they were dating on a very long hike and PURPOSELY forget food and water to gauge her response to the situation. First of all, he didn’t recommend this to the girls. Second, what kind of idiot forgets food and water on a really long hike and keeps going? Third, do you really want to purposely cause someone discomfort to gauge their response? No!
To save some guy some trouble, here’s a normal woman’s response to this—we bring our own food and water so you’re hurting yourself and there’s not going to be another date.
Date 4: Camping
There’s nothing like being stuck with one person in the middle of nowhere to realize that person is not the one for you. Do their taste in podcasts drive you batty? Do they refuse to help with the preparation and expect you to handle it all? Did you run out of conversation thirty minutes in? Forget lust or love, this will show you how much you really like each other.
I haven’t ended a relationship camping but I did have a friendship fizzle out. I provided all the gear and all she had to bring was the tent. A seven-hour drive later, we went to set up the tent and she’d only brought the flap. Cut to me driving an hour down the road to find a store still open on a Friday evening. Thank you Wal-Mart. Then she snored—loudly and for hours! After fourteen hours in a car and hiking or a few days, we realized we didn’t have much to talk about after we exhausted work.
While I definitely still wanted her as a friend—just not a camping friend—we didn’t go anywhere after that. I think our trip had showed us we didn’t really have much in common.
Date 5: Canoeing/Kayaking/Paddle Boarding
This date can be anything that requires good cooperation. Nothing tells you more about a relationship or another person than working together to a common goal. Do they insist on doing all the paddling or do they merely dip their paddle in the water leaving the work to you? Can you sync up together or will you constantly be paddling against each other?
When I lived in California, my mom was supposed to come out and stay with me for a weekend of sea kayaking. Unfortunately right before the trip, she broke her knee. That left me on a non-refundable, guided day-trip kayaking at the Channel Islands. I was the only person who wasn’t part of a couple on that day (story of my life, but I digress). I had never kayaked before, and, after a very brief introduction, they pushed me out into the ocean.
I’m not what you call a strong woman and was very nervous about keeping up with the group since every other kayak had two people. As we pushed off, I paddled my little heart out to keep up. Turned out I didn’t need to worry. The several couples struggled to move forward—one person would be paddling one way and the other a different way. Or someone would be paddling too hard on one side or not enough and pulling them off course. For the first while, the couples rowed mostly in circles while I kept up with the guides.
But by the end of the trip, most of the couples had figured out how to work together and kayaked smoothly through the water and easily passed me. However, some just spun in circles, arguing about who was doing what wrong. If you’re that couple, ask yourself some questions about your future.
Date 6: Engagement
Your relationship has been tested but you’ve come through and now you’re ready for the next step of commitment. What better place to get engaged than the outdoors where you fell in love. Also, think of the pictures!
One couple I knew attempted a surprised engagement in the outdoors but it didn’t quite go as expected. He went up to their picnic area ahead of time and buried the ring in its box in the dirt. When he picked her up for their “date,” he brought a metal detector and suggested they see what they could find. After dinner, they played with the detector where it dinged that it’d found something. After a bit off digging, he produced the ring and proposed.
She was stunned. How could he propose with someone else’s ring that he dug out of the ground! He tried to explain that, no, the ring was his and he’d purchased it for her. No, she argued. Didn’t she just witness him digging it up? After retreating to the car and finding the receipt, he was able to prove the ring was in fact his and she said yes. Last I heard they were still going strong.
Date 7: The Break Up
No, I’m not going to advise anyone to drag their partner out in the middle of nowhere to break up with them. That’s a good way to end up on a Dateline episode. If any of the above may produce an unplanned ending to a relationship, be respectful and save your yelling for when you’re safe back at home.
No, I’m talking the date you take yourself on to heal that broken heart. Don’t let the pain of the memories or the awkwardness of being alone, stop you from doing the thing that once brought you great joy. Go on that solo hike, join that Meet-up group, and you be your best self. The outdoors were meant to be explored over and over again!
Looking for love on an outdoor adventure, check out my small-town clean romances where love and adventure collide.
Mirabelle brings romance alive every Harvest Festival on her horseback rides, but she’s bent on staying single.
A fake engagement, a made-up love story, two sworn enemies—what could go wrong?
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