March 15, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
How I Learned To Change My Goals and Expectations for Climbing.

This week brought the end of a friendship and partnership, my climbing partner to be specific. Now I won't let this post turn into a venting session however I have to give a few of the details. My climbing partner was a dear friend but she was also my polar opposite. She is very much a go with the flow type of person. While this can be a good quality it also translated into constantly being late for our climbing sessions and lately a lack of focus while belaying me. Luckily we climbed indoors and the risk factors were minimal however gearing up to get outdoors for the season, well I didn't have the trust to bring her with me. These climbing issues coupled with some of her behavior in the non-climbing world really showed me a new side of her. A side I didn't want in a partner or a friend.

So this parting of ways forced me to ask what went wrong? After talking to friends and reading a few articles online I realized that our goals and expectations weren't the same. I expected my partner to show up on time, focus while we were climbing, and to establish a consistent schedule so we could both improve and push ourselves further. My goals are to get outside more (at least once a week) this season and to gain more competence in sport climbing this year. While these expectations and goals may seem pretty simple they're not for everyone, my climbing partner said she agreed with the goals but her actions showed otherwise.

So just like dating and breaking up, now that the relationship has ended I am not ready to hop back into something serious. I have decided to adjust my goals and expectations for the season. Rather than focus on goals that are based on having a single partner, my new goal for 2009 is to broaden my climbing community. I have been in a climbing rut and limiting myself with my climbing partner monogamy. I am ready for climbing partner polyamory. My new expectations...simple, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I surveyed my Tweeps (friends on Twitter) and many said they go to the climbing gyms to find partners. That's what I will start doing. Even though I am not an extroverted type who's comfortable asking strangers if they want a belay, I am going to work past that insecurity.

I also have a number of other friends who climb that I haven't yet climbed with and I am excited to have more time to branch out and climb with new people. In addition, I will use the virtual world including,,, and Twitter to meet new climbers for conversation and climbing. I hope to learn from others this year and hope I can bring something to their lives too.

Overall it's been a bittersweet week. Anytime a relationship ends there can be sadness but I am very excited to shed the old goals and expectations and dive into a new world of opportunity.


Will said...

I kinda watched the discussion on Twitter about finding climbing partners from the outside in. I was lucky that my wife taught me to climb, so our climbing expectations and goals have always meshed. Thus, finding a climbing partner hasn't been a need for me. I'm not sure how that (climbing) relationship would've worked out if I had already been a climber, though.

Good luck on your climbing-partner-polyamory. As with dating, just be safe.

Tali said...

Thanks Will. I appreciate your persepective and learning more about your experience.

Ultimately I would like to have a core group of 2 or 3 climbing partners. However in the mean time I want to "date" as much as possible, while maintaining safety.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

I enjoyed reading this so much.

Really, I am so sorry about this situation. It seems like your partner has some other priorities and likely would have been limiting to you.

Finding a new partner will be a blessing, no doubt. It could lead to all sorts of wonderful adventures, not to mention some great friendships.

But when a friendship ends...

well... that's just awful.

I don't think that I follow you on twitter. I'll have to check.

Ryan Nieto said...

Take this comment for what it is worth, coming from someone who only boulders as of late and has no solid commitments to any climbing partners. (I imagine we are swingers of the climbing world, holding no commitments except to our own self progression and satisfaction)

Climbing partnerships, on some level are about as complex and trust dependent as romantic ones. In our climbing relationships we look to our partners for comfort, advice, safety, encouragement, etc. With a partnership that is so complex, why not approach the search with the same philosophies as dating? Most married couples date other people before they met and subsequently married their spouse; I see searching for a climbing partner in the same light. When ever you are looking for someone with that many specific qualities you need to really shop around to not only make sure you are getting what you want but to ensure that you are actually happy with your partner, not just satisfied. Be polygamous and test the waters: old, young, experienced, new, strong, weak, male and female. The more you know about what you don't want, the easier it will be to recognize what you do want when it finally appears.

I think you are ahead of the power curve on this one. As you said, you already know why your last partnership went wrong, now you just need to build off of those learning points and refine the search a bit more. You're probably not going to find your ideal partner right away but just think of it as research. The more people you climb with, the more you can narrow your search for the perfect partner.

Tali said...

Anna, thank you for being there for me through this and being the empathetic amazing person you are. I am blessed to have know you more than half my life.

Ryan, thank you again for your great input. You've put into words exactly what I plan to do. You rock.

Tom Markiewicz said...

Great post. I have definitely been there. You may also want to check out our new site, ThinkClimbing which works on top of Twitter to find climbers:

Tali said...

Thanks Tom! I signed up!