There are plenty of people who advocate for embarking on adventures solo; in fact I was one of those people back in my single days. The thought of getting in my car and taking off on my own time, schedule, and preference was liberating. Breathing in that fresh nature air and basking in the California sun with just the quiet of nature by my side was enthralling for a period of time. Then I began to grow lonely and found myself longing for company, wishing I had a partner to take in these incredible adventures with.
Maybe I’ve become biased after being in a relationship however I’ve come to realize that hiking with a significant other, family member or even a friend has its benefits too. Whether you are single or you’re in a committed relationship, I’ve come to find that hiking with someone else helps strengthen relationships. In fact, I’ve found 10 different ways that hiking has helped build my relationships with not only my partner but my family members and girlfriends.
Here’s how hiking helped me strengthen relationships:
- Quality Time – Spending time driving to and from a hike combined with the time you spend actually hiking with someone allows for quality, uninterrupted time that’s often difficult to accomplish when out to dinner or out at a bar. The setting of a hike is likely serene, quiet, and desolate allowing for you to interact and engage in a meaningful conversation with your hiking partner.
- Company – Most of us grew up surrounded by family – brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, parents, maybe even cousins. Then we went off to college and likely had roommates for a few years or maybe many years. We are used to being around people and while it is great to be independent every once in a while, being able to build strong relationships is also a crucial part of life.
- Partnership – Most hikes are not a walk in the park – they require energy, effort, sweat, and sometimes (though hopefully not often) a little blood. A partner can help encourage you, motivate you, and push you out of your comfort zone – a zone you might not have escaped had you hiked alone. Not to mention in the event that you did get hurt hiking, you’d have someone by your side to help you.
- Excitement – Taking in a new experience is always exciting but taking it in with someone else seems to add a little something extra. Being able to reminisce and say “Remember that one time we went to ‘Insert awesome hike name here’?” is a conversation you’ll be able to bring up and discuss even when you’re graying and growing old.
- Communication – Hiking with someone else requires a lot of time spent together, and a lot of that time there won’t be any distractions. You will need to communicate with one another more often than you would in a busy, loud setting. Hiking with someone else encourages you to develop and improve your communication skills.
- Social Interaction – Taking a partner with you on your next hike forces you to be social. You will need to interact, exert effort hiking rugged terrain, help each other, and once again motivate one another. No matter how socially awkward you may be, you’ll find that socializing will come easy to you in this rigorous outdoor setting. Join a meetup group to push your social boundaries even further!
- Accountability – It’s easy to wake up in the morning and tell yourself, “I don’t feel like going hiking today so I’m just going to stay home and watch TV and eat pizza on the couch.” When you’ve already made a commitment to a friend that you will hike at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning it is more difficult to back out. Having a fitness date is like scheduling an appointment – you’re far less likely to skip out if there are going to be repercussions that affect someone else.
- Birds of a feather, hike together – You attract what you put out there. If you are a positive person you’ll likely surround yourself with positive people. The same can be said for exercise – in particular hiking. By sharing your passion for hiking together, you’ll realize you have more in common with your friend or partner and therefor develop a deeper bond.
- Health – Nothing strengthens a relationship more than health. I say this because health is what keeps us alive, it’s what keeps us happy and living a fulfilled life. Hiking has numerous health benefits and if you find a partner that enjoys hiking just as much as you do – your lives together will (hopefully) be lengthy and enjoyable.
- Understanding – Helping and encouraging someone to push themselves further is not only humbling but rewarding. It also helped me to be more understanding of people’s strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone will be an expert hiker, you may not even be one yourself, but being understanding of someone’s skill level is an important characteristic to possess. Hiking forces you to do that – no man/woman left behind.