What is going on here? I set out to write about gear and outdoors stuff and all of a sudden I’m a relationship columnist. Really, this is utterly ridiculous. I’m the last person any of you should take advice from in that department. Dating, yes, okay, I’m good at that, that’s true. Relationships, though; I just don’t know why I keep putting myself through it. What can I say, I must have high hopes; either that or I enjoy pain. Perhaps both. I’m an optimasochist! What a life.
Anyway, I have hereby published that disclaimer so if you really do still want to read what I have to say about relationships and dating, do so at your own peril.
So, an unintended consequence of listing all the great things about outdoorsy women in my last article was the contact from a bunch of guys who say they want to meet and woo a fantastic outdoors woman but can’t find any (first of all, guys, you appear to be looking on the Internet. Already you are doing it wrong). Evidently, there are scads of lonely hearted men out there searching for their Lynn Hill but only finding Carrie Bradshaw. The ladies greet this complaint with skepticism, as do I, I must admit, but since it apparently is a common issue I thought I’d try to address it somehow.
I’ve assembled some advice for the guys who want to meet an outdoorsy woman but can’t seem to manage it. I’m definitely not an expert on this topic as it’s admittedly very tough to meet someone who is a good match both indoors and out, so keep that in mind. From my perspective, though, here are some suggestions for the men who find themselves bereft of potential mates who share their passion for the outdoors.
Where to find outdoorsy women:
1. Outdoors. Duh. Go outside and do stuff and keep your eyes open (and up, for god’s sake. My eyes are up here). If you spend most of your free time hanging around the internet ski/bike/climb chat boards, haven’t you noticed that it’s an utter sausage fest around there? That’s not where the women are.
2. Not where the guys are. This was a close tie for number one on this list. Women tend not to congregate at sausage fests. It’s like a self-perpetuating circle, isn’t it? You put a bunch of dudes together and women drift away. You won’t find who you’re looking for in the usual crowd of bros at the popular powder spots. It’s for a number of reasons; some women find crowds of guys intimidating, others get understandably tired of tram culture (and tram smell) quickly, still others get turned off by the endless competitive wheel-sucking on trails when around guys, many of us are sick to death of being hit on left and right in strange and off-putting ways by our activity partners – you get the picture. If where you’re going is full of guys, you already know there are no women there. Go somewhere else.
3. Industry events. So if the Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to your town, you’ve a high likelihood of a bunch of like-minded people assembling in one room to watch it, don’t you? So, strike up some conversations. Don’t just go in, take your seat, and mindlessly wait for the magic to happen. Approach women, say hello, see if you like them and if they like you. Find out what they do for fun. Trust me, they are outdoorsy or they wouldn’t be there. Take the initiative to create a connection.
4. Industry retail stores. Admittedly, this one can come off as smarmy if you’re not careful. But same as the above, if you see someone shopping for skis, chances are SHE SKIS. Go say hello!
5. Groups and clubs. Now, I can’t really personally endorse this one because I’ve never been a big group joiner; I’m more the loner type. I pretty much know that people congregating in clubs are not the people I want to meet, so I have the same problem as you guys – it’s hard to meet people, ANY people, otherwise (which would be the entire point of being a loner, now, wouldn’t it?) but most people I consulted for this article say that clubs and meetup groups are a great way to go about expanding your social circle. Maybe there are even singles meetup groups for outdoors people, I don’t really know. But if there aren’t – start one!
What to do when you finally meet an outdoorsy woman:
1. Don’t say stuff like “oh my god, a woman doing [activity]! I have never seen that before!” There’s no good way to respond to that statement and even if she would otherwise find you attractive, you’ll probably turn her off, saying moony stuff like that. When a man says something like that to me I reflexively think, “you need to get out more.” Women in general don’t like getting treated like freaks of nature and that’s how you come across when you say things like that. You also come across as incredibly shallow if you simply want to fill the blank spot in your life with a woman-shape on a bicycle. We are humans. Treat us like humans, not props.
2. If you happen to cross paths with a woman whom you find attractive, TALK TO HER. Key words: to HER. Don’t gaze at her bike and drool “nice ride” while staring at the top tube. When you’re on the lift next to a hottie, talk about something other than her skis. Do you want to date her bike or her skis? I sure as hell hope not. If you want to date HER, look at HER and talk about HER. You can use the gear as an ice breaker, but change the subject quickly if it’s really a spark you’re after. If you spend the entire lift ride talking about her skis, that’s what she figures you’re interested in.
3. Don’t compete. If you are lucky enough to ride with a woman you find attractive, don’t try to show off. Few things are more off putting that someone who blows themselves out hammering for the first 40 minutes and then needs a break every ten minutes because they’re tired. Just chill the hell out, relax, be social, and HAVE FUN. You’re really not going to be too appealing if you’re all competitive and wound tight.
4. Be open. You may have some preconceived notion about what your outdoors woman is going to look like, what age she is, what sports she likes, and how good she’s going to be at them. These are called “expectations” and they are anathema to anything good in a relationship. Let them go. She’s a human, not an embodiment of your richest fantasies. If you keep reserving yourself for the dream girl existing solely in your imagination, you’ll be alone a long, long time.
5. Be up front about liking her. There’s nothing wrong with asking to tag along on a ride if you meet someone on the trail. Say “hey, can I ride with you for a bit?” and she might be welcome for the company. There’s a chance she might even like you, too. I’d say this offer could potentially be rebuffed for safety reasons if you’re on a remote trail, but maybe at the resort or on a busy trail it would work better. The point is to not just turn tail and run after you’ve concluded your first positive interaction with this woman you’ve just met. What do you think will happen if you just leave? You’ll never see her again. Ask for a phone number. A date. An email address. Something. Anything to keep this skookum Sally (do non-Alaskans know that term?) from schussing out of your life forever. What’s the worst that can happen? She might say “no” and then that’s that. If you followed my advice in #4 above, you’ll be OK.
There you have it, guys. Give it a try; after all, what you’re doing isn’t working; may as well try something else. Report back with any success stories. I do love a happy ending.