How To Take Your Significant Other Surfing*

*And Retain Your Significant Other

| posted on October 25, 2011

The lineup can be a dangerous place to take your relationship. Photo: Russi

Teaching your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband to surf can be one of the most rewarding things you can experience in a relationship. On the flip side, it can also prove disastrous if executed poorly. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled some key points to ensure that you walk away from your inaugural session with the relationship intact.

Know what you’re getting yourself into: Before you even ask your partner if he/she wants to learn how to surf, make sure you’ve thought this one through. If all goes to plan and they fall in love with the sport, you may have just added a whole new element to your relationship. You also may have just killed all chances for future solo sessions. So before you even offer, know that the road ahead has the potential for unforeseen potholes/IEDs. But if you choose to proceed, you should know that…

Things will be ugly in the beginning: You say your girlfriend/boyfriend is the most graceful thing that’s ever stepped foot on land? Cover them in a heap of soaking neoprene, dowse them in the sea, and watch them flounder on a Doyle and you’ll instantly begin to cringe. The point is, everyone looks completely out of their element their first time in the lineup. It’s to be expected. Just be prepared for your 10 to look like a 2.

Before you paddle out, get the right equipment: Find a good board to learn on; we suggest a 9’0″ and above. Soft-tops work well for this. Also, take the time to find a wetsuit that fits. Keep in mind, even with all of the right equipment, this will be one of the most frustrating hours of their lives, so you might as well as stack the cards in their favor with the right gear.

Be like the Danes. Do you know who the happiest people in the planet are? The Danes. (Think Denmark, not Reynolds.) As a nation, studies have concluded that they’re wired to expect very little. And when fate smiles on them, they’re downright giddy. So before you enter the lineup, make sure that you keep both of your expectations low and you’ll reap the rewards at the first sign of success.

Find an empty peak: Lowers might be firing, but don’t trick yourself into thinking that after a quick once-over your significant other can cruise on the inside while you sit out the back and pick off a few sets. Take the time to go find an empty sandbar where the intimidation factor is non-existent. You may miss out on a day of surfing, but you’ll keep them in their comfortable zone.

Keep your instructions basic and to the point: Paddle with two hands. Pop up quick with your toes pointed toward the rail. No parallel stance. Bend your knees. Smile profusely. We know it’s not that simple, but that’s more than enough info for the first day.

Grab a post-surf drink: At the end of the day, this was supposed to be fun, right? Yes, he/she was livid when they couldn’t get up and the wetsuit gave them a rash and you may have yelled at them for pulling back on a good one. That’s behind you now. You just went surfing together, and that calls for a drink—that is, if you’re still a couple.

  • Major Pain

    Ah, yes. There is nothing else like meeting A Hottie on the Beach and saying, “I would never leave You all alone to Go Surfing.”

    Of course, once She becomes My Girlfriend, what do I do?; I get Her to “Watch My Stuff,” as I Go Surfing…….LMBO

  • Tracey

    Its harder than it sounds to talk my bf into taking me to a smaller/less crowded break when its firing somewhere else…We live just up from Swami’s but there are typically a ton of people out that don’t take kindly to beginners (which I get, I’m still figuring out how to maneuver my board)…not to mention its a rock reef :/ Here is to hoping he feels like taking a few trips to Doheny!

  • Alana Phillips

    Great advice! Something I will definitely use if I ever have a boyfriend that does not know how to surf. Thanks!

  • Locaza

    Any advice for those of us who don’t get in the water and end up on the shore just waiting for our significant other?

  • Tkay

    For Tracey…San Elijo just south of Swami’s is perfect for all surf types as well as all ages.


    Nice little tips for teaching anyone you know how to surf. I’m so glad my Husband and I can rip together 😉

  • WaterWays Travel

    Great advice and article Surfer Mag! You should check out our recent article about surf destinations that are great for couples!

  • NCG

    @Major Pain – be careful there…

    @Everyone – take heed – I took my non-surfing girlfriend to a tropical island. A storm blew in triple overhead & I was out 6+ hours a day. This girl, that had been dating for years, was confined to the resort and took up playing backgammon with another guy. Sure as sh!#, she took off with him and left me with a broken heart.

    So, lesson learned… unless your other half surfs as well as you (or better), leave ’em at home.

  • alex

    I am teaching my girlfriend how to surf right now, and a tip for all of you out there looking to do the same. As much fun as it is, it can be frustrating as hell so be patient. Once they get the hang of it, its so fun to watch them learn about the ocean and about how things work so its worth the effort for you and your significant other