If you have walked any of the most popular hiking trails in Europe, you will very likely have noticed that the age groups vary, but there are surprisingly many teams of two on the way. So is hiking a couple’s sport? In this post, we investigate and also provide some tips for hiking as a couple.
You cannot avoid asking yourself: does hiking lead to pairing or does long-term relationships lead to hiking holidays? Presumably both are true. Dating sites specifically for wandering singles suggest that outdoor fans like to keep to themselves. But it also happens that couples discover hiking as a new hobby together.
Why is this?
What you love is generally more beautiful when you share it. If that is nature, then you will likely want to share it with your other half. In addition, hiking is almost a preventative measure for couples therapy as it is a great time to reconnection and spend quality time together.
What is special about hiking as a couple?
On a day or long-distance hike you spend a lot of intense hours together. And this is also without the noisy everyday life with all its obligations, appointments and options in between. Once you have decided on a route, prepared the provisions and packed the appropriate equipment, there is surprisingly little to decide on the way. This distinguishes hiking from short vacations to the various metropolises of Europe, where you are constantly “spoiled for choice” from accommodation to choosing a café or museum.
Without this distraction, while hiking, you generally pay a lot more attention to nature, yourself and your partner. The common experience is in the foreground. Everyone walks independently and yet you share great landscapes and a world that connects both. It can be so relaxing to do without even needing to speak and instead, letting nature work its magic on you.
A pinch of adventure
Movement will get you moving without rushing. The mind relaxes and the thoughts get going. You can already benefit from this with a walk, but hiking is also accompanied by a pinch of adventure and a pioneering spirit.
What’s behind the next bend? What will the view from this summit be like? To be able to share this feeling of freedom is a very special gift.
In nature it sometimes feels like walking through a huge painting. To experience this beauty is unspeakably romantic. It is not without reason that the great poets of the nineteenth century often conjured up impressions from nature in their poems: sunsets, rustling forests, the full moon in the sky. Against this background, the soul can breathe a sigh of relief and this generous space is also good for the relationship between two people.
In remote areas you sometimes have the feeling that you are the last people on earth. And that wilderness and each other’s presence is all it takes.
Beauty instead of vanity
A hike is also a fantastic opportunity to learn to rely on each other and to achieve a very specific goal together, if you head for the end of a circular route or the sleeping place at the end of a day’s stage. It can happen that you reach your own limits of resilience and endurance and see how you can expand them together. Just a hug can unleash unimagined energy reserves.
When you learn to show mutual support, trust in the other grows. This enables couples to meet without make-up or putting on a front. Nature is not a place for vanity. That doesn’t matter either. When you stroll through nature for hours in functional outdoor clothing, sweaty, or conquer summits, you see a different kind of beauty in each other’s shining eyes.
But like all experiences that are worthwhile, hiking together is also not without its challenges.
Challenges when hiking as a couple and how to meet them
# 1 – Plan ahead
As with any shared activity, the planning phase can be stressful. Here it is important to communicate clearly and to maintain a willingness to compromise. On both sides.
Important questions are: where should we go? How long do you want to hike? Are there paths and maps? What is the signage like? Fortunately, excellent information and reviews on the most popular hiking trails can be found on the Internet. You also have the option to use the support of a hiking holiday specialist such as Hillwalk Tours.
# 2 – Respect differences
In the end, the questions when hiking as a couple are often the same questions as in life. How does a “we” emerge from two individuals? How much space is there for individual needs in a team of two? Who adapts and who sets the tone?
It is very important to respect and communicate differences. Maybe one half wants to stay longer in a certain place while the other impatiently points out the time and weather situation. It is definitely helpful to break up every now and then and pursue different things, as long as you can agree on a rough common direction and schedule and meet again. Most couples should be familiar with this balancing act from everyday life. Meeting and chatting with fellow hikers is also a great opportunity for a break. And of course, the best way to normally deal with these differences is often with some humor.
# 3 – Meet basic needs
Cold, toilet stops, hunger and pain should not be underestimated. Are you annoyed and about to vent your mood on your partner? Check to see if you might just have to meet one of the basic needs mentioned above. Then the world usually looks completely different.
# 4 – Don’t take anything personally
Everything is more intense in nature. Both the rewarding moments and phases of exertion. You are closer to your limit and that can also cause emotions such as happiness and frustration to boil up faster than in everyday life. After a few days, there is likely to be some kind of conflict. This is not uncommon and has more to do with the situation than your partner.
Even if it seems almost impossible: do not take the moments when it crashes personally. Most of the time, these thunderstorms are triggered by a number of factors. And as fast as they wind up, they’ll be over again if you manage to let them go.
# 5 – Adjust the imbalance
It is often the case that within couples, one part is more experienced, more persistent or more enthusiastic than the other. How can this imbalance be corrected?
If you are more inexperienced:
- Allow the other to share their experience and perhaps make suggestions more often. Accept help and advice.
- Communicate your needs without aggression. Do you need a break? Is your backpack hurting? Do you have a blister on your foot? Much of this can be prevented with good preparation, but things always happen that were not expected. Give the other a chance to understand what’s going on with you, even if he or she is not exhausted at all. Preferably in a nice tone.
- Take the initiative: go hiking alone, look for a route that sounds great or try your hand at navigation.
- Having a partner who knows more about the outdoors than you do is a great opportunity to learn skills and draw on someone else’s experience. Take advantage of them.
If you are the more experienced:
- Of course, hiking is always sporty and can be a little strenuous. But be careful not to put your partner off. Is there an extremely demanding route where you push your limits and want to challenge yourself without compromise? Maybe it’s better to do it alone or with other friends of a similar experience level.
- Find moderate hikes that both of you will enjoy.
- Get your partner involved. Even if you use maps and GPS in your sleep and the other person likes to rely on you: share your skills and teach the other person something.
- Do not take bad mood personally when your partner is tired and exhausted.
- Has it been raining for many hours? Don’t rush ahead, go with your partner. “Together we can do it” is a helpful attitude!
Hiking – a mirror of the relationship
Hiking is ultimately a mirror for the whole process of living and growing together. Again and again you are trying to find the right balance between individual needs and the requirements of “us”. Time in nature teaches you to recognize the importance of communication, which is needed to really engage with one another.
But humor and breaks also help if something goes wrong. The trick is to make each other allies over and over again, instead of projecting potential frustration onto each other and working against each other.
As with learning the other lessons of love, any difficulties and hard work will be richly rewarded! The best way to find out how, is to try it out for yourself. One great example is the intoxicating feeling of being able to share beauty and meaning with someone who understands.
The larger number of not very young hiking couples shows that if you hike, you can encounter all the other ups and downs of a relationship with optimism.