Dating in the Box - Should You or Shouldn’t You?
Photocredit: Crossfit Max Effort
Walking into a CrossFit box can be like walking into the best executed filter on Tinder. All of a sudden you are flush in people who are fit, who speak CrossFit, who have a deep to obsessive physical respect of their bodies, and who already have at least one thing in common with you.
You’ve also coincidentally walked into your safe place. The Box is your community. Your family. Your friend group. It is where you go to feel powerful. It is where you go to escape. It is one of your most tightly held places of sanctuary that gets the added bonus of containing heavy shit you get to lift up on the regular.
How do we reconcile these two places?
I tend to fall on either side of that metaphorical sandwich, and it hasn’t ended well. Ever. That safe space: dead to me. Awkwardness and hurt abounds. I load up my bar with 45s and a hefty amount of rejection. Rejection is heavy. Throw thrusters on top of it and it’s down right unbearable. It will change that space into one that makes you feel small. It takes the life out it.
What piece do we protect or value above all others? Because we have options here. We can place the need to find a partner first. We can fiercely protect our place of non-drama. Or we can say F it and surrender to endorphins and to pheromones and to minimal amounts of clothing and see what happens on the other side. Because good things invariably happen on the other side of that one…
But what if it does work?
Because that’s the other piece of this, the piece where you actually connect with another curiously fit human and it works out in real life does in fact happen. A lot. But, functioning relationships change the space of the Box too. They add a whole other layer to it and to them. It’s a place where people get to see their partner become alive. They get to see them as powerful, autonomous humans (possibly the sexiest and one of the most important pieces in the creation of desire). They get to see them succeed.They get to see them fail. They get a safe and clear space to see that their partner isn’t infallible, a myth that absolutely needs to be kicked in the face in order to succeed in a relationship. And they get this unique and contained insight into how their partner handles discomfort and struggle.
One of my own qualifications towards calling me “girlfriend” is that I need to see said suitor workout. Not because I’m mean and judgey (although true fact: nothing makes me want to sleep with someone less than ugly rowing technique. Eight years of competitive rowing will do that to a woman…), but rather because the gym offers this gorgeous, little case study on how one reacts when things get hard. What is your threshold for discomfort? How do you respond to a challenge? These aren’t questions confined to the gym. These are questions that are absolutely imperative in a couples’ ability to connect in a world that is in fact hard and messy and beautiful on such a different scale than a 15 min AMRAP.
The box reveals one’s threshold for all of those things that challenge us in real life and within a relationship. Can you celebrate your partner’s strength or do they threaten you? Can you show up for them and recognize when they need that extra piece of encouragement and when they need you to step back and let them figure this one out themselves? And can you in this perfectly modified metaphor realize that you can both be moving towards the same goal but get there in completely different ways?
These are questions that don’t need to be answered seamlessly in the beginning of a relationship. But they are ones that must be honored and practiced in order to facilitate connection. And the Box pretty much hands these lessons to you gift-wrapped in a nifty fitness inducing package. I’m calling that a decidedly win-win scenario of deep understanding and sweet traps.
But we still haven’t answered the question: do you or don’t you? Are you missing out on something huge and important by not dating a fellow CrossFitter or should marital status and stalk worthy social media handles be added to every gym’s waiver?
The Three Things to Consider Before Box Co-Mingling
#1. Don’t just hook up at the gym
Hooking up sounds like a great idea. You are both adults. This will not be disastrously and epically uncomfortable if and when it doesn’t work out. Because you are adults! False. In this case, you are not an adult. Or rather you are, and no adult no matter how high functioning can remain totally cool and collected on the other side of messy, messy rejection. At least one of you will make it weird. And the sex will not be worth it. Mind-blowing sex on round one of a hookup is a magical unicorn. Do not bet on it no matter how phenomenal the abs in question. Let it go.
#2. Other Boxes = Ideal
Just because dating within your own Box could be a freaking disaster, doesn’t mean that all wondrously muscular and snatch proficient CrossFitters are off limits, just the ones in the dangerously close proximity of your own Box. Drop in at another box. Pay attention to people’s bios on dating apps. Go to local competitions (coincidentally the best place to see CrossFitters in the wild.) Essentially, try to widen your dating space beyond your house, your job, your box, and the one coffee shop you frequent. I use this as my rule of thumb: as soon as I start to blackout when certain athletes take off their shirt and come-to :30 seconds later really hoping no one had said my name in that timeframe - it is time to widen my circle.
#3. What Parts of Yourself do You Want to Outsource?
Our partner does not need to (and quite debatably, should not) be our everything. It does not behoove desire and lust and wanting and intriguing conversation to do all of the same things and have all of the same interests as your partner. Yes, as a CrossFitter chances are your partner having a passion for moving their body is absolutely important. But does that need to be via CrossFit? Probably not. I’ve always dated athletes. It was the piece of myself that I just assumed I had to align with a male counterpart. But then I went on a date with a poet. Are we in a relationship? No. But he was lovely and it was fascinating to align my creative self with a theoretical partner and is something I now consider super important.
Part of the fun of dating is seeing who shows up when reflected upon another person. What pieces of yourself do they connect to and expose? What pieces are non-negotiables in your sharing with a partner and which ones can be filled by other humans? CrossFit can fit into either one of those categories.
As in all interesting and profoundly personal questions the answer to the great CrossFit dating debate is: it depends. It depends on what you consider important in a partnership. It depends on how fiercely you want to protect that space that is the Box. And it depends how clear-headed you can be in the presence of hot, sweaty humans with truly impressive biceps in the absence of the hallowed bicep curl.
I leave you simply with two final pieces of advise:
Follow your heart.
And don’t be an idiot.