If you want to really get to know someone, you try to see them in all sorts of situations. You go on a road trip together before you get married. You volunteer at a soup kitchen. You play on a sports team together. You cook together. You eat the food you cook. (Or maybe you don’t.) You put the leftovers from that failed meal into tupperware and laugh about it on the way to find some real food. And if, after many many many varied activities you still like each other and think it sounds like a good idea to do even more crazy things together (like raise children, move across the country, jump from job to job to job, constantly be wondering where you’ll be 6 months from now) then you’re golden. Go for it. Tie the knot.

It can be tempting, I’m sure, to think that you’ve spent sufficient time with someone, that you know them, that you’re committed to them, even if you haven’t seen them in all types of lighting. Certainly spending 4 hours cleaning together every morning for a year at your campus custodial job is enough time to really get to know someone. I mean, 4 hours a day for a year! And at 4am! Can’t hide your real self from that.

Folks, sunny beach light is a whole different thing from compact fluorescents. For better or worse. So drop the mop and grab your swimsuit.

It can be hard to branch out, I know. To see sides of someone that were previously unknown to you. What if they don’t like you-at-the-beach? Or you-on-a-train? Or you-in-the-dark? Or you-in-the-rain? What if you don’t like them? What if the pick-up soccer game on the weekend spells the beginning of the end of your relationship?

Well, so be it. Better to find out now than later, right?

But if you do decide you’re committed and you’re going to stick together forever and always, the fun has just begun. Because now part of the challenge is to find new ways to do new things. With less time. And more “important”* responsibilities. A relationship can only go so far on stay-at-home dates and Blue Bunny ice cream.

So you learn to be flexible. You realize that not all dates have to take the whole evening, or even a whole hour. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a walk around the block – and go the opposite direction than you normally do. (Though taking a weekend trip every now and then is certainly a great idea, too.) Anything out of the ordinary, anything that keeps you on your toes and your brain engaged is a good thing.
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It’s the same with any relationship. Even – frivolous as it may sound – your relationship with running. Which is why I’ve been making the effort to test out new paths in the park, or to try a different route altogether when I’m in a time crunch. I’m even trying to switch up my shoes a little more frequently.

If we’re going to be together forever, running and I, we’re going to have to work a little harder to keep things interesting. I’m not going to let this love crash and burn simply because I’m on autopilot. (Which, incidentally, I don’t think I am. I love running more now than I did 5 years ago. But still, what am I missing out on by just doing a counterclockwise loop around the park every run?)

Have you ever gotten burned out of a hobby you thought you’d love forever? Do you ever miss it?

*There’s really no more important responsibility than the one you have to your spouse and your marriage. Not even your kids. Sometimes they are more urgent, but when it comes down to brass tacks, marriage holds the trump card.

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