Building A Fortress

Strengthening Your Relationship Using the Outdoors

I met my boyfriend in August 2021, the timing of the relationship in the company of lockdowns and/or partial restrictions. Taking our relationship to the outdoors helped us develop a deeper understanding of each other and a more meaningful relationship.

We stepped outside of our comfort zones, taught each other new things and learned to trust each other. We discovered, not all silence is awkward, you can enjoy the quiet moments together and feel a sense of peace and relaxation instead of stressing about what to talk about next. We took the opportunity to be creative, to think outside the box and create activities that we could do together.

On our first “official” date, I asked if he wanted to go kayaking. I hadn’t realized he had never been kayaking before and this adventure was going to be outside of his comfort zone.

When he asked, “What happens if I flip.”

I chuckled and responded, “Well then… you’re going for a swim.”

When he admitted that he had never been kayaking before, I realized he was legitimately nervous and quickly changed my sassy remarks to those of reassurance.

Kayaking that day, he had to trust me to be there for him and I had to think from the perspective of how it feels to be unsure or new to something.  The peace of paddling on the calm lake with the sun shining overhead gave us both comfort and made us feel at ease together. We were able to really talk, learn about each other, and cut down some of the barriers that we all naturally have in new relationships.

Our second date, we discovered that not all silence is uncomfortable. While hiking, we came to lookouts where we enjoyed beautiful views, birds singing overhead, and experienced the joy of spotting wildlife together. There was no need to fill the silence with idle chitchat. We unplugged from our phones and let each other feel the peace that surrounded us. Without the stress of keeping a conversation going, we were able to listen to each other more intently and the conversation flowed easily. Moments of silence felt calm and comforting instead of awkward and stressful.

From then on, we became addicted to spending time outside together. When the weather turned cold and the snow started flying, we decided to get creative and build a massive snow fort around our firepit. We built up walls, dug in seats and invited our close circle to share our experience. We learned how to work together towards a common goal while being independent. We consulted one another for ideas when things became uncooperative and found solutions while learning how to communicate.

We took our evening meals outside and learned how to make full roast dinners on an outdoor fire pit… we even took a tumble on the ice one night and lost half of the meal… but we made it work, salvaged what we could and made a new game plan!

He taught me how to split wood and made me feel safe trying something new. We sat outside and took in sunsets together and stayed late into the evening so we could enjoy the stars. We went on ATV rides and found spots to enjoy hikes and walking trails. All the while, learning, teaching, and embracing the differences that make us who we are.  

When we stop thinking about the things we cannot do and start thinking about how we can create new experiences, we win! Sitting in a restaurant would not have provided us with lifelong memories or the opportunities to bond the way the outdoors has. I encourage you to find opportunities to explore together, to experience the joy of teaching each other new skills and the benefits of using the outdoors to strengthen your understanding of each other.