Dude…stop flailing.

Outdoorsy dating. Popular topic. Today I want to write about something that no one really talks about. Usually I try to be equitable in my dating discussions but this one is pretty much targeted towards male behavior (Sorry guys. I love you!) and there’s just no way around it.

So I figure that my dating articles are popular because it’s something I’m good at. I don’t really have trouble dating. I date a lot. It’s pretty easy and simple and straightforward for me, which is weird because it seems so hard for other people. Most people would rather be dragged down the street in a box of nails by a team of Iditarod huskies than consign themselves to “dating” for any length of time. They are all just dying to fetter themselves to someone else until they’re sick of each other and have to go through a miserable breakup. Not me! I like to date, it’s good fun and I’m good at it. But on the flip side, other people seem to have no trouble going from dating to committed to married and to me that path is just a bridgeless chasm over a mysterious no-man’s-land of despair. So I do have trouble with that whole life partner thing but let’s have a look at the “help” I get from my male friends on that topic:

Speaking bluntly, you’re not ugly (in many ways), and I can’t figure it out how the hell you don’t have some crazy dude like Laird Hamilton at your side. I have a serious man crush on that dude. So, being your friend, and platonic admirer…from almost every angle…yes socially, mentally, recreationally, entrepreneurially, and yes physically (I won’t act like I don’t think you’re hot) I wonder, “what the hell Jill”. If I was Laird Hamilton, I would obviously not consider you friend material, but more so some crazy how-did-we-destroy-the-living-room scenario requiring ice, pain medication, chiropractic exam, re-hydration and the consumption of a bag of Cheetos or a carton of cigarettes on completion. I am glad you have some high-fu*****-standards and you have reasons for them, and notable ones at that. So I guess, keep it up. Don’t settle for sh**, and stay fit, cause you look good at every angle. Some bro-ha of the right odor, genetic make up, size-of-calf muscle, and retardedly awesome character will sweep you off your feet…

Admittedly, this is the friend who likes to send me fake emails from Brad Pitt.

So all my years of dating and all my time spent with dudes means that I have noticed a thing or two. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that outdoorsy dudes like to talk about the kinds of girls they like. The kinds of girls they talk about liking are thus:

1. Girls that can and will go out camping and fishing, and then clean up to look like supermodels. “Doesn’t mind getting dirty but cleans up real nice” or some variation thereof has to be the most used phrase on any dating site. While researching this article, I even saw a personals ad specifying that a woman should look good in a ponytail and baseball hat AND look stunning dressed up nice for dinner. I think that has to win the prize for most superficial requirements ever.

2. Girls who “crush” – good at climbing, skiing, biking, whatever. So good that they never, ever, ever, slow the dude down or need to be taught. Guys are ALL awesome at everything and damned if they’ll chain themselves to some tagalong chick. These same guys don’t really like the girl to be BETTER than them at anything, but that’s a discussion for a different post. Guys want a lady who will join them on their adventures without creating too much hassle. It’s lonely out there in the wilderness!

3. Low maintenance girls. You know, they don’t worry too much about hair, makeup, etc. Nothing’s more tedious than a world tour with a girl who can’t stop stressing about the adapter for her hair dryer. Note the dichotomy between this and item 1.

Really?

REALLY?

I ask in such an incredulous way because the sad fact of the matter is that dudes don’t REALLY seem to want a woman who meets those criteria. At all.

My fellow Geargal Mary has discussed the phenomenon of the man who sits campside, all sad because his wife doesn’t join him on his adventures. “If only I had a wife like you,” this kind of man mourns to his female camp partner, “I’d love to have someone who would come out here with me.” But the reality is that he chose to marry someone who doesn’t like the same types of adventures. OK – so does he REALLY want a woman to be there with him? From my own perspective, camping, moto-touring, climbing, and fishing with my guy buddies, it seems to me that dudes don’t prioritize these things as must-haves in their relationships. As a matter of fact it seems to me that dudes like to do these things as escapes FROM their relationships. Why else are most adventure trips populated so heavily by dudes?

I can’t write this article without referencing Andrew Skurka, backcountry adventurer extraordinaire, who stated on Twitter that he prefers “women who like expensive dinners” (perhaps a joke?) and posted this bizarre interview with his – though obviously good natured – decidedly urban girlfriend, complete with video showing her discomfort with a moderately steep mountain slope and a cringeworthy link to an equally awkward article at Women’s Adventure, which he seems to forget is referring to a different girlfriend. I guess when all the stories end the same it’s hard to tell them apart? Yikes. In the article, Andrew even states up front that he expects to give up his lifestyle for a woman someday because “[men] rarely stop this lifestyle on [their] own. It’s always a woman.” I guess there’s this whole other world I don’t know about, in which men are the adventurers and the women are at home making muffins and dreaming of the day they finally get that ol’ ball and chain around their adventurer’s ankle, hm?

Backcountry travel is a huge part of Andrew’s life but he doesn’t seem to want a partner that shares his passions and this seems to be par for the course for outdoorsy dudes. I have to wonder whether they really do want an outdoorsy girl; they rarely choose one.

I really don’t know many guys who have paired up with women who like the outdoors. Honestly I can only think of one or two male friends whose female partner is an equal in the outdoors; the rest of my dude cadre are great partners for me but, frankly, they’re only available as partners because they married women who aren’t into it. I try to get them to invite their wives and the offer is always rebuffed: “Nah, she’s not interested.” All my dude friends are rad and the vast, vast majority of them married women who don’t care to come out and play in the outdoors, and when they do, they only dabble. So what’s the deal?

As for me, I don’t think I could be happy with a partner who struggles in the backcountry or doesn’t like to travel; it’s too important to me to ignore. I can’t imagine having a partner who doesn’t share my lifestyle; I’d rather fly solo than give up my fun. So I just don’t believe most guys who say they’re dying to meet women who like to go on adventures, because their actions just don’t jive.

It seems the more a man talks about how much he likes the outdoors, the more likely he is to shackle himself to someone who considers an open-air shopping mall to be all the adventure she needs. What gives?