Ask Hope: How Do I Encourage My Boyfriend to Be More Outdoorsy?

HOPEThis is an issue that both the ladies and the gents struggle with often; perhaps you’ve met someone who is the apple of your eye, cute, funny, and meshes with you perfectly except for the seemingly simple issue of them not being into the outdoors.

Now, if you’re like me, this could potentially be a deal breaker since the outdoors are a passion of mine. If a guy doesn’t camp, hike, and have any interest in mountain sports then I may not give him a second look. This might seem harsh or narrow-minded but the fact of the matter is that when you’re dating someone, and particularly when you’re thinking long term, having similar passions and interests is important. Especially for the big stuff. If you’re not into his Fantasy Football league and he doesn’t give a hoot about your vampire romance TV shows and movies, these differences might be more easily overcome than him not enjoying skiing, climbing, or camping. Why? Because while Fantasy Football and vampire romance probably only take up a fraction of your time, the outdoors most likely takes up many weekends and evenings for you. Perhaps you attend a climbing gym 2 or 3 times a week and go on 3 day climbing trips over the weekend. During ski season you may take off from work for powder days and, if your significant other doesn’t want to or can’t go along it may drive a wedge between you. Luckily, there are a few simple and effective things you can do to turn your couch-potato, fantasy-footballing boy into the next Bear Grylls.

Encourage, Don’t Nag
Instead of saying things like, “Why don’t you ever hike with me?” or “ You really need to get to the climbing gym more”, encourage your boyfriend to try these new and fun activities with you and to stick with them by giving words of encouragement and telling him what the benefits will be in the long run. Men are very black and white creatures and they like being given specifics, so if you want him to climb with you try saying something like,

“Climbing is so much fun and one of my passions. If you’d come with me, it’d make me feel closer to you. Not to mention, I’m sure you’d look really sexy up on those rocks” (We’ll talk about the “flattery” piece in a minute…wink, wink).

If he’s not into getting outdoors the first couple of times you ask, don’t get discouraged. Just keep encouraging him and inviting him along. Speaking of inviting…

Invite, Don’t Demand:
There’s a difference between inviting someone to do something and making them feel obligated. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather be invited to do something fun in the wilderness rather than feel like I’m being forced to participate. Chances are, your boyfriend feels the same.

Make plans with your friends for a camping trip and invite him along by using phrases like,

“No pressure.”

“You’re more than welcome to join.”

“If you’re feeling up to it.”

This lets him know that 1). You’re not dependant on him for you outdoor recreation and 2). You’re okay with him saying “no.” The beauty of it is, when he doesn’t feel pressured, he’s more likely to say “yes”.

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
Remember how we added the “and I bet you’d look super sexy on that rock” piece when you were requesting that your boy go climbing with you? Men, like women, appreciate genuine affirmation and praise. I can’t think of any man who doesn’t want to appear sexy, athletic, fit, and strong for their lady, so if you let him know that being in the outdoors will give him the opportunity to show off those sides of himself to you, he just might be more inclined to lace up his hiking boots and get moving.

Word to the Wise: The key here is being genuine. Don’t tell him he’s sexy when he makes a campfire unless you truly mean it.

The Couples that Play Together, Stay Together
Ultimately, your boyfriend cares about how you feel and wants to make you happy (If you suspect that he doesn’t then you shouldn’t be with him). That being said, impress upon him that you really want to play and experience with him all that nature has to offer and that you feel it will strengthen your relationship in the long run. Make very specific requests of him, such as:

“I’d like for us to go camping once a month.”

“Would you be down for hiking with me once a week?”

“Can we try a new outdoor sport like fishing or kayaking?”

Chances are, he’ll be receptive and want to play too. So remember to encourage, invite, and play your way to the outdoorsy relationship you’ve always wanted.

Stay wild, my friends!