Jiu-jitsu, either for better or worse, isn’t an easy sport to learn. When you add dating into the mix, you could have the makings of a potential disaster on your hands (although sometimes, jiu-jitsu can actually help fix your relationship troubles). The good news is that I’ve already made every mistake you can make while dating someone who didn’t do jiu-jitsu, so if your partner brings up these concerns to you, here’s how to make things right:
“You spend more time at the gym than you do with me.” This was the most prevalent phrase uttered by my (now) wife when we started dating, and many other non-jiu-jitsu partners have the same complaint. Jiu-jitsu is a sport that takes a serious time commitment in order to master, and depending on your work and academy schedule, that time commitment will most likely take a large chunk out of your social schedule as well. If you’re serious about your relationship, your best option is to compromise. Sit down with your significant other to determine a routine that you both can live with, and then stick to it. For example, after my wife and I had been dating for a few months, we determined that Wednesday nights and weekends would be our times together, which still left me with four to five hours a week to train. Will you get all the hours of training you want in a week? Probably not. Will you still have a partner to go home to at night? Probably.
“I think your teammate has a crush on you. Should I be worried?” For those of us who train with someone of the opposite sex on a daily basis and understand that there’s nothing sexual about rolling, this statement could throw you for a loop and has “uncomfortable conversation” written all over it. The best way to mitigate this particular insecurity is to try to include your significant other in any sort of team activities. If you’re meeting up with your training partners at a bar to watch a UFC fight, invite your partner to join. If they want to make the relationship work, they’ll make the effort to take an interest in what you enjoy. This could potentially come with a price (Remember what I said about compromising?), which means in the future you’re going to have to make an effort to go and do something that they enjoy. But if this person is worth your time, you’ll make the effort to take an interest in their pursuits as well.
“You bought another gi?!” We can’t help ourselves — we can never have enough gis. When you’re in a long-term relationship, the issue of money is inevitable. The best way to compromise on this issue is to sit down together and determine a budget for your jiu-jitsu related spending. With the money you save, buy your partner a gift “just because” or take them out on a date. These small gestures of appreciation will go a long way toward helping your partner accept your jiu-jitsu lifestyle.
If all else fails… If you think you’ve tried everything, and your training is still a point of contention in your dating life, try to ask your significant other to come to try a class with you. My wife started training with me in January of 2016 and the first thing she said to the instructor was “Hi. My boyfriend convinced me to do the free week trial, I probably won’t be back.” Lo and behold, over two years later, she’s a staple at our local gym.
With some communication and conflict resolution skills, your love for jiu-jitsu and your love for your partner can peacefully coexist.