Even when people are in a committed, loving relationship, they likely still enjoy an activity that is just “theirs.”
But there are ways of discussing this boundary, and ways not to, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor kimchidave recently tried to set a boundary with his girlfriend about his gym membership being like a sanctuary to him.
But when she thought he was banning her from the gym entirely, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he approached the conversation from the wrong angle.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my partner not to join the same gym as me?”
The OP and his girlfriend both enjoyed their own hobbies and activities.
“My girlfriend (29 Female) and I (33 Male) just moved to NYC. We’re coming from Colorado where we first began cohabitating together and now carrying that on in The Big Apple.”
“We have a little less space now, but I don’t think that bothers either of us too much.”
“Even despite this move, my girlfriend and I have always been open and transparent when it comes to having our own individual lives away from each other. We love each other very much, but we understand that having a healthy relationship can often act as a byproduct of having a healthy individual state of mind.”
“While we prioritize spending time together, we also hold doing things individually with high importance.”
But the couple started entertaining the idea of going to the same gym.
“So now that we’re in NYC, we both needed gym memberships. In our search, I found a gym that I felt confidently would meet all my needs. I was pretty sure it was the perfect fit.”
“She was simultaneously doing her own search but for whatever reason didn’t come across the gym that I had found and was generally underwhelmed with what she had found. She wasn’t that excited about any of them.”
“She wanted me to tell her about the one that I had found so she could consider joining herself.”
“So I told her the name, and she looked it up and was very interested. It checked all her boxes as well.”
“I told her that I’d prefer to keep the gym as separate activities, a space we could each have for ourselves. Or in other words, don’t join the same gym I’m joining.”
“I felt particularly strong about this, considering we’re living in a small apartment now and I was clinging to the idea of a gym as my own personal getaway whenever needed.”
The OP felt somewhat conflicted about the conversation.
“At first, her reaction was only slightly negative. I explained why I felt this way and ultimately, she said she understood.”
“I’ve since joined that gym and have been going regularly.”
“But whenever I come home and she asks me, ‘How was it?’, I tell her, ‘Great,’ and then I just feel a massive amount of guilt because I know she’d like to be a member as well.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some questioned the OP’s reasoning about not sharing the gym.
“Why can’t she go to the same gym as you if it meets both your needs? You don’t have to go at the same time or go and work out together. I don’t understand your need to prevent her from joining that gym. YTA.” – Dr007Bond
“This whole thing is stupid. He could just ask her to go at different times. There is no indication anyway that she was following him.”
“If I like a gym and I’m paying for it, and I like to workout for my own benefit, nobody’s gonna tell me not to join cause it’s their ‘sanctuary.'”
“What’s next? The grocery store? The coffee shop? Church? NY marathon?” – princesshibou
“Even if they go at the same time, they don’t need to interact or be in the same space together.”
“Honestly, I enjoyed going to the gym with my wife. We never worked out together or interacted, but I enjoyed checking her out. It was a comfort to my eyes but that’s just me…” – AaeJay83
“I don’t get his mentality at all. I don’t feel the need to have a ‘sanctuary’ to get away from my wife ever. I would enthusiastically welcome her to any space that I want to spend time in. In the rare moment I want solitude, I’ll just stay home from work and have a day to myself. But I still look forward to when I get to see my wife again at the end of the day.”
“I like to imagine he has some kind of self-inflated macho mentality in which he thinks he’s Ryan Gosling’s character in ‘Drive’ or something like that. Not that I’ve seen that film but it’s just a funny image to imagine this guy feeling like his solitude is such a big deal.” – r2bl3nd
“I like fairly regular time and space away from my husband because I lived alone for a long time before moving in with him and am also an introvert. But I don’t need a secret space away from him that he’s not allowed to enter at all, No Boys Allowed style.”
“If anything, I really love introducing my husband to a cool space I’ve found that I enjoy, even if I mostly enjoy spending time there on my own.” – boudicas_shield
Others had their own theories about what went on at the OP’s gym.
“Probably cause he flirts at the gym and doesn’t want it known he’s in a relationship.” – AaeJay83
“He also can’t tell his girlfriend he’s “at the gym” if she could be there as well.” – onetwobe
“How can he find a side chick if his SO (significant other) has access to his hunting grounds?” – soul_reddish
“I didn’t immediately jump to ‘OH MY GOD, HE’S CHEATING,’ but the AITA subReddit loves to speculate on as little information as possible. AND SINCE WE ARE SPECULATING:”
“OP’s mindset of ‘this is mine, this is yours’ and having any of those boundaries change or shift may be what is causing him discomfort. He absolutely should feel guilty that he told his girlfriend not to join the same gym as him, but should rectify that with an apology, promise to be more open-minded, and remember they are in a partnership, and some things are just going to be intertwined.”
“If he wants to maintain his individuality, there are several other things. ‘You can’t do wood burning, that’s my thing!’ Bruh, relax.” – educatedvegetable
“Maybe he is an introvert and prefers to have a space to himself. He alluded to this in his post. As an introvert who can’t have more than 15 minutes to himself in his own house, I can relate. I love my partner and my kid and my cats, but I am seriously considering renting an office just so I can get s**t done.” – LinusV1
But some thought they might understand where the OP was coming from.
“While I agree that for some it is possible to go to the gym with their SO without interacting, I can see how it would be hard for others to do so.”
“My wife and I have a gym in our house. We cannot work out at the same time, despite having plenty of space to do so, because we will talk. If I am with her, we talk. I talk to her, she talks to me. It happens.”
“Our gym times are our alone meditative times. It is our safe time to be alone working on our minds and bodies. We put on headphones or turn on a nonsense tv show and disengage from the world. It is nice.”
“When we are together, we cannot disengage from the world because we are a huge part of each other’s world. We discuss kids, groceries, plans, work, etc. All of this takes away from our active attempts at disengaging.”
“If his real concern about joining the same gym is that they won’t be able to disengage from the world if they are there together, I can get the concern. It doesn’t require gawking or cheating. It is simply a feeling that he is losing his sanctuary.” – chop1125
“I do like to get some time to myself. I’m just made that way. And the last guy before my husband stalked me even after we broke up. So I ask that some Me Time and Space just be respected. I can’t deal. And I’ve never cheated on anybody. Zero-sum game in that, in my opinion.”
“I love my husband. But, I love having my own space too. If they go to the gym at different times, he still gets his space. But, he seems to feel his girlfriend won’t respect separate schedules.”
“I don’t want to do everything with my husband. But, I’ve never found comfort in things like that and now I’ve been married more than 20 years – so, I’m always like: Can I get some air? Get off me. Please?” – AndSoItGoes24
“My dude, I have lived in NYC. The city is literally your backyard. You can’t find another ‘personal getaway’ space? Coffee shop? Park? Library? You can’t go at different times? You can’t ignore each other while you’re there? YTA.” – MiddleAgedCool
“I understand having the fear that you won’t have individual alone time, but banning your partner isn’t the way to go. Have a conversation and listen, she may not even want to work out with you. Or maybe she’s nervous and wants you to go together the first few times, but then go separately.”
“Either way, banning your partner from something because you’re afraid isn’t the way to go. There are so many spots/activities to be alone, why not use those and support your girlfriend in an unfamiliar environment? YTA but not a huge one.” – ppl_n_r_neighborhood
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“Clear consensus here that IATA (I am the a**hole). That’s fair.”
“Although, one thing I’d like to clear up, lots of people seem to think my motivation behind this is so that I can gawk, hit on, and maybe even sleep with other women at the gym in peace!”
“Even if I were very very single, I would never invade someone’s personal space at a place like a gym. It’s a safe space where people go for mental and physical health. I would never deteriorate that environment for someone else because I think they’re attractive.”
“Anyways, I apologized to my girlfriend earlier today. She’s scheduled a tour of the gym for this weekend.”
“I told her I’ll use all the referral credits I get from the gym if she signs up to go out to a nice dinner together.”
“We’re all a**holes sometimes! But this makes me feel lucky to have her. I always knew she was the actual better half. She continues to show it too. Lucky guy.”
If wanting some personal time, or being able to focus and meditate on his workout, was what the OP was the most concerned about, the subReddit could understand that.
But as they also pointed out, there were ways for the OP to still preserve that, by working out separately or at different times. Otherwise, his continued reluctance would start to look suspicious.