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Old 12-05-2014, 04:26 PM   #1
carpeviam
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Straight Face Problems Dating on the Mat

Long, slightly tortuous tale.

I started studying aikido about 2 years ago and found that it helped amazingly with the stress&stuff from growing up in a situation where my mother was abused. I've taken self defense courses, but something about the environment and the peacefulness on the mat made things better in a way that nothing else has been able to duplicate.

A few months ago I started dating a really sweet, intelligent boy who moved to my dojo. He's shodan; I'm sankyu. Off the mat our relationship is very good, but I have the most terrible time working with him. I invariably feel smothered and claustrophobic with him, and like he's being stiff, self-righteous and unyielding, pedantic, and condescending. I'm aware that my perspective is very, very likely being warped by my formative experiences of men being violent pieces of refuse, but there have been a few incidences that occurred between us, where a third party mentioned to me that it looked like the boy had a touch of arrogance or dominance to him. So, objectively, it must be something like x% truth and (100-x)% my personal craziness.

It's really disorienting. It's thrown off my training and my sensei has mentioned several times for me to get my game on. I don't have a clear question I'm asking, but I'm hoping that by writing it out and getting a few responses, I'll at least have a little more to go on.
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Old 12-05-2014, 05:06 PM   #2
sakumeikan
Dojo: Sakumeikan N.E. Aikkai .Newcastle upon Tyne.
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Julia Campbell wrote: View Post
Long, slightly tortuous tale.

I started studying aikido about 2 years ago and found that it helped amazingly with the stress&stuff from growing up in a situation where my mother was abused. I've taken self defense courses, but something about the environment and the peacefulness on the mat made things better in a way that nothing else has been able to duplicate.

A few months ago I started dating a really sweet, intelligent boy who moved to my dojo. He's shodan; I'm sankyu. Off the mat our relationship is very good, but I have the most terrible time working with him. I invariably feel smothered and claustrophobic with him, and like he's being stiff, self-righteous and unyielding, pedantic, and condescending. I'm aware that my perspective is very, very likely being warped by my formative experiences of men being violent pieces of refuse, but there have been a few incidences that occurred between us, where a third party mentioned to me that it looked like the boy had a touch of arrogance or dominance to him. So, objectively, it must be something like x% truth and (100-x)% my personal craziness.

It's really disorienting. It's thrown off my training and my sensei has mentioned several times for me to get my game on. I don't have a clear question I'm asking, but I'm hoping that by writing it out and getting a few responses, I'll at least have a little more to go on.
Dear Julia,
Be honest with the guy.Tell him how you feel about the situation. May I suggest that you might want to consider y the possibility that you are unknowingly contributing to the issue? A good heart to heart chat is required.Form your own opinion.Keep the third person out of the equation, its your and the guys business only.You appear to me to have had a bad time with men in the past??Again this is partly your own fault for picking losers.Not all men are violent or pieces of crap.Good luck, hope you resolve the issue.Cheers, Joe.
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:09 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

"Sweet and intelligent" doesn't mean that he may not automatically be reverting to a preset role ("pedantic and condescending" makes me see it as a professor-student dynamic) in which case you can 1) try to get him to see that this is caustic and hurting the relationship and 2) whether or not HE accepts responsibility for that, YOU can assume responsibility to stop letting yourself internalize acceptance of that role with him. It will not only bleed into your training, it will poison the relationship.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-05-2014, 09:18 PM   #4
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

I had been training for more than 10 years and had reached 2-dan before my wife started training. Like your situation, it can be a bit difficult at times because there is a disparity in ranks and it can force us into a student-teacher relationship which can be damaging to our personal relationship. Looking at it the other way, being so close means that it is easier to express our frustration with each other, which can be detrimental to our training. It probably doesn't help that being so close means we have higher expectations of each other than we would for others, and we also want the other person to think highly of us so we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

It's not something there is a magic bullet for, but the way we deal with it is to recognise that it can be an issue and take a step back when things are getting frustrating. Just let him know how you feel when you train and let him try to help address the problem. Try to avoid training with each other too much, and try to reduce your expectations of yourselves and each other when you do.
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Old 12-06-2014, 08:43 AM   #5
Robert Cowham
Dojo: East Sheen Aikido and Kashima No Tachi
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
It's not something there is a magic bullet for, but the way we deal with it is to recognise that it can be an issue and take a step back when things are getting frustrating. Just let him know how you feel when you train and let him try to help address the problem. Try to avoid training with each other too much, and try to reduce your expectations of yourselves and each other when you do.
I have both personally experienced and seen people have difficult practicing with their partner on the mat. Robin's advice is spot on!
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Old 12-06-2014, 11:17 AM   #6
kewms
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Yeah, what Robin said. Training together can be either very good or very bad for a relationship. I know a couple who runs a dojo together, and I know couples who've split up because they couldn't get past the teacher/student thing.

I would guess that it's especially an issue early on, as you're both learning about where each other's boundaries and sore points are.

Both sides need to recognize that it's a potential issue and do their best to not let training and the relationship bleed into each other. Give this person the same benefit of the doubt that you would any other training partner. But sometimes the best solution is to just practice with someone else for a while.

Katherine
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Old 12-06-2014, 04:48 PM   #7
lbb
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

There's a reason why tandem canoes are called "divorce boats", and why it usually ends in tears when parents try to teach their children how to ski. It's not universal, but it's how it usually plays out, and it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with either party. Nor is it something that can be cured simply by being aware of it. Awareness is a necessary but not sufficient condition, and it may be the case that -- at least for now -- the two of you should not train together.
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Old 12-15-2014, 02:12 PM   #8
fatebass21
 
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

If its effecting your training I think its time to think about whats more important to you. This guy or your training.

Chris Sawyer
Fountain Valley, CA
Tenshinkai Aikido Federation
Training day is every day
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Old 12-16-2014, 07:23 AM   #9
PhilMyKi
Dojo: Seibukan, Milton Keynes
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

I am shodan, my other half is shodan. I love training with her, it helps relieve the tension of being made to do the washing up!
Good thing is that we both rattled through the kyu grades in different places so have our own unique take on it all. I did, sometimes, try and suggest changes to align to our dojo and would get the look ... I have trained with her old club and can understand that the emphasis is different and can understand the raised eyebrow
Important thing is my aikido in my aikido, her aikido is her aikido. We have a shared interest, but there are a million other things that make us a couple. If we give each other a hard time on the mat it is because we are testing each other, without prejudice, to ensure the validity of what we are practising. After training we get changed and walk out holding hands. IMHO, if a shared past-time drives a wedge in your relationship you either have a weak relationship or you take the past-time too seriously - both will require looking inwards ...

Vorsprung durch Aikido!
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Old 12-18-2014, 07:53 PM   #10
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Julia Campbell wrote: View Post
Long, slightly tortuous tale.

I started studying aikido about 2 years ago and found that it helped amazingly with the stress&stuff from growing up in a situation where my mother was abused. I've taken self defense courses, but something about the environment and the peacefulness on the mat made things better in a way that nothing else has been able to duplicate.

A few months ago I started dating a really sweet, intelligent boy who moved to my dojo. He's shodan; I'm sankyu. Off the mat our relationship is very good, but I have the most terrible time working with him. I invariably feel smothered and claustrophobic with him, and like he's being stiff, self-righteous and unyielding, pedantic, and condescending. I'm aware that my perspective is very, very likely being warped by my formative experiences of men being violent pieces of refuse, but there have been a few incidences that occurred between us, where a third party mentioned to me that it looked like the boy had a touch of arrogance or dominance to him. So, objectively, it must be something like x% truth and (100-x)% my personal craziness.

It's really disorienting. It's thrown off my training and my sensei has mentioned several times for me to get my game on. I don't have a clear question I'm asking, but I'm hoping that by writing it out and getting a few responses, I'll at least have a little more to go on.
I've always been told to avoid dojo relationships as they almost always end with one of the two students leaving the dojo. That being said, the person who gave me this guidance has been married to one of his students for like 20 years, haha (ok, she's a sixth dan so maybe 'student' is no longer an appropriate term).

On your training issues with your guy - I know how to do several things well. Some of these things my wife is interested in learning. Never once has my attempts to teach her these things have they not resulted in disaster (martial arts, cooking, snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc) and I generally consider myself better at teaching than doing with most others. Some people have relationships where they can learn from each other, but many girlfriends and wives I know feel awkward and have little patience when their man tries to show them something (speaking from my own gender POV, the same is true in reverse roles). Not really sure why, its just something I've noticed.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:43 AM   #11
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

i have always thought that doing aikido is like speed dating on the mat. hmmm that would mean i have been speed dating lots of unattractive men. damn! i need to find a new dojo!

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:53 AM   #12
Malicat
Dojo: Suenaka-Ha Aikido of Bloomington
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
i have always thought that doing aikido is like speed dating on the mat. hmmm that would mean i have been speed dating lots of unattractive men. damn! i need to find a new dojo!
I've had two Sensei (I get that there is no plural in Japanese, and I'm not sure if I should make a Japanese word plural in an English speaking context, or if I should leave it as is, since it sounds weird either way) tell me that they prefer female students. They both immediately backed up and attempted to explain that it's not a pervert thing, but that women pay attention more and argue less. Feel free to come up to Bloomington to visit, Phi!

--Ashley
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Old 12-19-2014, 09:28 AM   #13
lbb
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Even in jest, it's creepy to talk about aikido training as a way of getting next to someone. If you can't keep that separate, you should not train.
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Old 12-20-2014, 11:58 AM   #14
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Ashley Hemsath wrote: View Post
I've had two Sensei (I get that there is no plural in Japanese, and I'm not sure if I should make a Japanese word plural in an English speaking context, or if I should leave it as is, since it sounds weird either way) tell me that they prefer female students. They both immediately backed up and attempted to explain that it's not a pervert thing, but that women pay attention more and argue less. Feel free to come up to Bloomington to visit, Phi!

--Ashley
Who argues with their sensei, especially on the mat??

Usually the go-to "I prefer/like female students" catchphrase has something to do with not muscling technique as much as men do...which is garbage, as women muscle technique just as much as guys do.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 12-20-2014, 12:13 PM   #15
fatebass21
 
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
women muscle technique just as much as guys do.
If not more so.

Chris Sawyer
Fountain Valley, CA
Tenshinkai Aikido Federation
Training day is every day
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Old 12-21-2014, 01:54 PM   #16
lbb
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Chris Sawyer wrote: View Post
If not more so.
"Toutes les généralisations sont fausses, y compris celle-ci."
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:46 PM   #17
Augustine
Dojo: Chesapeake Aikido Club, Anne Arundel Community College, MD
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

I fully agree with Robin's input in post #4. She offers good insight and advice.

Best,

Augustine
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Old 12-22-2014, 09:20 PM   #18
lbb
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Raymond Mack wrote: View Post
I fully agree with Robin's input in post #4. She offers good insight and advice.
I think you'll find Robin is male.
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:06 AM   #19
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Quote:
Julia Campbell wrote: View Post
Long, slightly tortuous tale.

I started studying aikido about 2 years ago and found that it helped amazingly with the stress&stuff from growing up in a situation where my mother was abused. I've taken self defense courses, but something about the environment and the peacefulness on the mat made things better in a way that nothing else has been able to duplicate.

A few months ago I started dating a really sweet, intelligent boy who moved to my dojo. He's shodan; I'm sankyu. Off the mat our relationship is very good, but I have the most terrible time working with him. I invariably feel smothered and claustrophobic with him, and like he's being stiff, self-righteous and unyielding, pedantic, and condescending. I'm aware that my perspective is very, very likely being warped by my formative experiences of men being violent pieces of refuse, but there have been a few incidences that occurred between us, where a third party mentioned to me that it looked like the boy had a touch of arrogance or dominance to him. So, objectively, it must be something like x% truth and (100-x)% my personal craziness.

It's really disorienting. It's thrown off my training and my sensei has mentioned several times for me to get my game on. I don't have a clear question I'm asking, but I'm hoping that by writing it out and getting a few responses, I'll at least have a little more to go on.
Hi Julia,

I can relate to this post.
A lot of what I feel on the mat comes from my story. The one that I think I know.

What is revealed to me is what really is. I can think whatever I want on the mat but it is safe place for me to work out what is real in each moment.

I ended up marrying Ron who is still my teacher and we have been together for 27 years as student and teacher and for 26 years as a couple.

If we did not grow and change together we couldn't have made it. The woman who walked on the mat 27 years ago was not who I am today. Aikido gave us a common language and I had to learn to really speak up and mean what I say. On and off the mat.

Aikido has given us a common language and we have a beautiful dojo with great students.
I wish you luck on your journey whatever you decide.

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Old 12-23-2014, 05:37 PM   #20
Velvet Underground
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Tell him how you feel. If he's still being a douche then demote him to the couch for a few days. If he's still stiff arming you then dump him. His ukemi probably sucks anyways.
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Old 12-24-2014, 06:20 PM   #21
Susan Dalton
Dojo: Greensboro Kodokan
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Re: Problems Dating on the Mat

Julia,
I agree with the folks who have said to talk to him about his behaviors that are bothering you, but off the mat. On the mat he is your sempai, and depending on the system you're in, teaching you may be one of his responsibilities. I've never dated anyone in the dojo, but my son and I practiced together for years. He was my very favorite uke, but we could also get on each others' nerves more than anyone else on the mat. We had to communicate.

Old lady advice: my husband told me years ago that if I told him what I wanted from him and he didn't give it to me, fine, be pissed off. But if I didn't tell him, he couldn't read my mind. Good relationships take work, and learning how to communicate is very hard work. I also agree with Joe that you should communicate directly with your fellow. That's another thing hubby said to me--"If you tell me what's wrong, I'll try to make it right. But I would appreciate your giving me first shot at it, not spreading my business all over town. If you tell me and I don't respond, then go bitch to your friends. Otherwise, let me handle it." In 37 years I've never had to go any further than him with my complaints. My point is, I did not know how to communicate properly or be in a relationship in a healthy way, and I had to learn. If you think he's worth it, give this guy a chance to learn, too.
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