With the start of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio just a few days away, you likely can’t keep your jaw from dropping when you see the incredible feats of amazing athletes around the world. From those who have overcome great limitations to those who have worked nearly every single day of their lives to make their dream a reality, regardless if you’re athletic or not, it’s tough not to be inspired.
And while you might not associate the Olympics with being in love, think again. Just like practicing for the performance of your lifetime, being in a committed relationship takes a lot of the same values, qualities and frankly, hard work, that’s required to make your twosome happy and healthy.
If you and your significant other need a little recharge, experts actually recommend tuning into the Games together. Not only will you be sharing a moment in history together, but it can also help you identify some of the biggies needed to make your relationship even stronger than it was pre-Rio.
Here, experts share the important things we can learn about love from the Olympics.
1. The Olympics Can Help Us Communicate
Even though you may have never beat a world record in running or tried your luck up on the balancing beam past the age of 10, when you’re glued to the screen because an athlete is showing off their immense talent, you’ll instantly have a go-to conversation starter. “Having shared experiences with your partner, or even someone who you are just recently dating, expands your opportunities for conversation,” love and dating expert and host on E!’s Famously Single's Laurel House tells Bustle. “Talk about sports that you have been involved in or interested in throughout your life. This can lead to stories about your childhood, the first time your dad took you to a sporting event, when you tried out for the volleyball team and didn’t make the cut, watching basketball on TV as a teen and how that inspired you.”
When you’re opening up about your own personal history, your partner will likely do the same. And if you can, House suggests taking it a step further: “Go into not just the ‘what,’ but the ‘why.’ The ‘why’ are the feelings behind the story, the situation around it, and the backstory. That’s what makes you interesting and what creates a deeper connection.”
2. The Olympics Teach Us That Hard Work Reaps Rewards
While the amount of training varies for each athlete and every sport, it’s no secret that Olympians work incredibly hard for years (and years and years) before even getting a shot at the Games. To be the top-of-the-top in their sport, they understand that they’ll not only be met with disappointment, but that eventually, if they work hard enough, they’ll get to take their spot on the stage.
Relationships — and dating — is like that too: you may swipe through (what feels like 1,000) potential daters to find the right match. And even then, when you are finally in a solid union — the work is honestly just getting started. “Wanting to achieve something, whether a gold medal or great relationship, means hard work,” dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Patt tells Bustle. “Together you can put in the effort to have a happy, healthy relationship.”
3. The Olympics Teach Us It’s OK To Fail
Whether you’re going through a rough patch or just not feeling quite like yourself, it might be your relationship that takes the brunt of the stress. Or, if you’ve been in a long-term relationship for a long time and you feel you and your partner start to drift in different directions, it might be painful (and scary) to really look at the changes you need to make to get back on track. Training for the Olympics is a lot like that too, House says. “The athletes fail all of the time, that’s part of the game,” she says. “And they allow those failures to strengthen them for the future. Athletes extract the lessons from their missteps. They break down, analyze, evaluate, make changes, and take action.”
Think of those same steps as the ones you need to take to deepen your connection: what happened to pull you apart, what can you do to bring you closer and go for it.
4. The Olympics Teach Us The Importance Of Dedication
When you’re lucky enough to do what you love, you might be married to your job more than you think. For athletes at the Olympics, this is especially true and some spend nearly every single day for several years perfecting their techniques, timing and endurance. In some way, they take a vow to their sport, just like you do when you agree to enter into a committed relationship. “Making a commitment to be with your partner for life is like the commitment to participating in the Olympics. Athletes promise to give their all to the games, similar to the way couples vow to make their relationship last,” Patt says.
5. The Olympics Teach Us It’s Not Always About Being Right
Even when you really, really want to be right in a fight — sometimes you’re in the wrong. And even when an athlete really, really wants to bring home the Gold, they might not even make it to the Bronze. It’s tough to accept defeat — and to put your ego to the side — but it’s a trait that Olympians have to learn, and so do happy couples. “Win or lose, respect for all those participating in the games is important,” Patt says. “Respect between you and your partner is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship.”