Advice

My boyfriend’s workout routine is so fixed that I believe it’s hurting our relationship. What should I do?

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

When I met my boyfriend, I knew fitness was important to him — it was all over his online dating profile, and on our first date, he talked a lot about how much he loves working out. I’m not exactly a triathlete but I do make it a point to be active and so this sounded fine. As things progressed, we even went on some awesome hikes together and enjoyed Coastal Trail walks with coffee.

As things grew more serious, I learned more about my boyfriend’s fitness “goals.” And he has a lot of them. He lifts regularly, he swims laps every weekend, and he’s up early once a week for cycle class. The big thing is his running. Since the start of COVID — March 2020 — he has run at least one mile a day without fail. That means he’s gone almost 950 days without missing a mile run. And walking doesn’t count, nor does biking, or hiking. He must run one mile. He has run outside airports when we traveled. He runs on holidays and birthdays. It’s getting in the way of our relationship.

I’ve suggested he cut it back to six days a week. Is running every single day really even good for you? I also suggested he stop after day 1,000 — because what an achievement, right? He didn’t respond to that suggestion. He did say running got him through COVID when he worried with everything closing, he would get out of shape, and he’s come to love it dearly. He suggested I join him, but as active as I’ve ever been, I’ve never been a runner.

Is there any way to get through to him that I am tired of feeling like he’s dating his fitness calendar and not me?

Wanda says:

For better or worse, many of us forged or fell into new habits during the pandemic and it makes sense that someone so fitness-focused would find a way to stay active. He’s clearly one of those routine-driven people who knows a set schedule will keep them on track.

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The problem with that is when routines meet relationships, compromising must occur. Routines are great for self-discipline, a way to be held accountable and stay on track. And it’s quite possible to maintain some long-held routines, or develop new, shared ones. But if you just stick to your former activities and schedule, and don’t merge in some way with your new partner, you are living two parallel lives alongside each other instead of sharing experiences and new traditions.

Routines are also time-consuming. If you add up all the hours your guy is working out weekly, coupled with the presumption he must put some kind of work hours on the clock, and also has to sleep, and eat, there’s not much time left for you. You suggested scaling back; he declined. You suggested stopping at day 1,000; he was silent. Here’s a new compromise that combines the two: What if he scales back at day 1,000? You can offer that idea and see if he runs with it. If he doesn’t well, it might be time for you to hoof it out of this relationship and find someone who’s actually willing to prioritize you.

Wayne says:

One mile. We’re really talking about one mile? For a regular runner? That’s six minutes if he’s super-fit and super-fast, or 10 minutes if he’s fit but not necessarily fast. So that’s 6-10 minutes every day for his mile. Let’s add in five minutes to get his gear on, another five to warm-up, another five to cool down — all extremely bloated estimates. That’s still less than a half-hour every day dedicated to his mile mission. And how is this a big deal, or any size of a deal?

Now, about your daily routine. Do me a favor and tap to your phone’s Screen Time setting. Check your daily average. If you are like most American adults, your charts will read six to eight hours of screen time every day. Now drill down past the chunks of time in which you’re using your phone for important things like work, email or texting with family or friends. Look at social media, games, assorted apps and random sites that send you down rabbit holes — the things that wouldn’t impact your life in the slightest bit if you didn’t spend a minute of time on them. Where do you land? More or less than 20 minutes wasted a day?

Meanwhile in that same timeframe, your boyfriend is extending a routine that makes him happy, keeps him focused, and continues to strengthen his physical and mental health for almost 1,000 days, including through some of the darkest days in modern human history.

Essentially, you’re doing more damage to your eyes and brain scrolling on your phone, even if you’re on the low end of daily use, than he is damaging your relationship or his body by running a measly mile every day. If he was developing shin splints or joint issues, or using his runs to skip out on quality time with you, that’s a different story. But it sounds like he’s squeezing in his mile when it’s convenient, not when it’s disruptive. And it’s just 6-10 minutes. Give the guy a break. In fact, give him some respect for his dedication. Let him run.

Wayne and Wanda

Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at wanda@adn.com.

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