Boxing is so much more than just hitting things—although taking your aggression out (say, after a breakup) on a punching bag can feel damn good.
Dating coach and creator of GetTheGuy, Matthew Hussey, says the sport can help you gain useful skills to help you get the most out of your love life, too. Hussey, an avid boxer himself, teamed up with legendary boxing trainer Martin Snow at Trinity Boxing Club in NYC to share how boxing can help bulletproof your mind and body so you aren't crippled by fear of rejection or potential heartbreak and allow yourself to dive into a relationship head-on. (Related: The Surprising Way Boxing Can Change Your Life)
Don't overthink the punches.
When you're in the ring, it's common to second-guess yourself before taking a shot at your opponent. One, because when you swing, you're leaving yourself open to getting hit, and two you can never be 100 percent sure you'll be able to land the punch in the first place. (P.S. Here's how to throw a punch like a pro.)
Similarly, in relationships, Hussey says, "we spend so much time trying to figure out whether what we're doing is the right thing. But the truth is you actually learn a lot from taking shots and seeing how close you were to getting the results you were hoping for."
When analyzing all the what ifs and should yous in your relationship, Hussey says it's crucial to simply move forward. "I always tell my clients that right now, you're sitting in a stationary car and wondering which way to turn when you get to the end of the street," he says. "You might ask yourself, 'Should I stay in this relationship, or should I leave?' or 'Should I ask this person out, or let it be?' But you're trying to get answers while standing still and it simply doesn't work that way." (Related: Find Out How Speaking Up Can Strengthen Your Relationship)
At the end of the day, when it comes to finding love and finding the perfect person, you have to take the risk. "The punches you take may not be perfect, but they are yours. And each and every one of them serve as a learning opportunity for you to be better and stronger next time. It's the fear and impossible standard people have in their minds that stop them from taking that step, but you have to get over that to get what you want—and that's true for relationships and everything else in your life."
Celebrate the punches you take.
Boxing isn't just about how hard you can hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. Similarly, "getting hurt in a relationship is simply a part of life," says Hussey. "Yes, when someone you love or care about breaks your heart, you're going to bruise or scar, but that experience builds you as a person."
When it comes to relationships, it's normal to do everything in our power to shield yourself from pain. But, "rather than running away from pain, it's important to embrace it and stop trying to minimize, ignore, or fight it," he says. (Try this boxing yoga mash-up for a fierce body and calm mind.)
Think of it this way: "You'd never be able to appreciate what's good in life if you've never experienced the bad," says Hussey. "When life hits you hard, it can throw you off course. But how you handle that adversity can teach you so much about yourself and change your perspective on what you actually want from life."
Like boxing, by taking the punches life and relationships throw at you, you're able to create opportunities, gain insight and move toward a life you actually want. "By getting hurt, you might realize that what you thought you wanted and needed wasn't actually right for you," says Hussey. "And that's a lesson only heartbreak and pain can teach you."
Kill your ego.
Sure, boxing "looks" physically brutal, and it is, but it's also an intellectual sport. As much as it is about being physically capable to give and take punches, it's also about your attitude and mentality. One thing that can play against you in the ring is your ego—and, yes, everyone has one.
Hussey says when your ego is hurt or threatened, you tend to lash out defensively, and you're bound to go down for it—both in the ring and in relationships. (Related: 13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise)
"You can't make it all about you. So, when your significant other isn't putting in enough effort or isn't giving you want you want, and you decide you're going to do the same because you're bitter, you've already lost and let your ego get the best of you."
The biggest problem with ego is that it doesn't have any relationship skills. "Ego is one of the biggest downfalls of relationships because it tries to manipulate the way in which we give and receive love," says Hussey. "To protect yourself, your ego can resort to arguing, sarcasm, frustration, passive-aggressiveness, blame, and resentment amongst other things."
So what can you do about it? Remember that you're not always right. "It's important to be self-aware and think about the impact you're having on the other person versus how their actions are affecting you," he says. "You also have to learn that you cannot—and should not feel obligated to—be better than others. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can mend and improve your relationships."