Almost every single week in my dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) group, I have a realization about my relationships — with myself, with my trauma, with the world, with my wife — that is connected, somehow, to the gym. Sometimes, it’s about the dysphoria that hits me hardest in the gym. ‘Yes!’ my group insists, ‘you are trans enough and your arm dysphoria is valid!’ Other times, it’s about the profound guilt I sometimes experience over choosing to go to the gym instead of going on a date with my wife. ‘Yes!’ my group promises, ‘you are allowed to prioritize what you need and communicate that!’ My wife agrees, and is often the one pushing me out the door because she knows that there are so many workout skills that also help your relationship.
According to sex and relationships expert Dr. Megan Stubbs EdD, ACS, communicating openly about your needs and wants is “a pillar of healthy relationships,” she tells Bustle. And, believe it or not, a lot of the communication skills necessary to create and maintain a supportive, affirming relationship can be honed during your workout. Translating these skills — perhaps especially when you didn’t even know you were cultivating them! — into your relationship can be immensely rewarding. Here are nine skills you use in your workouts that sneakily help in your relationships.