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Every Olympics cycle, Americans experience a kind of group insanity: we become aware that a population of elite Olympic athletes live in our midst, we get to know them, and we fall in love. And we start to believe that if they got to know us, they might fall in love with us, too.
“Someone gets to run their hands up and down those anterior obliques” we tell ourselves. “Someone gets to rest assured that they will never struggle to open a jar again. Why not me?”
Olympians are different from other mainstream professional athletes, who enjoy year-round fame not limited by a sporting structure created in 776 B.C. The brevity and beauty of the games makes them closer to a romance than a sports franchise. Most Olympians spend approximately the length of a Spotify ad in the public eye. They train for years, but we only see them when they’re sidling toward a balance beam or diving board, looking determined and vulnerable and, somehow, accessible.
This setup gives the inaccurate impression that Olympic athletes are just regular folks like you and me, but in slightly better shape. You know that insane poll that found that 12% of men surveyed thought they could score a point on Serena Williams? People of all genders enter that level of delusion when it comes to “scoring” with Olympians. We watch them put the little metal disks they worked for all their lives into their mouths and think, “I could fix them."
This week, a man named Reed Kavner went viral by setting his Tinder location to the Tokyo village, and swiping on athletes. (He paid for the Tinder Passport feature, which allows users to set their location as anywhere in the world.) This is actually not a new thing—during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Bustle reported that Tinder had recorded a 1,850% increase in people using the “Passport” feature to digitally parachute into the Olympic Village.
Kavner says he hasn’t matched with any athletes yet. Of course he hasn’t. We are all so much dust under Olympic athletes’ cleats. Shortly after the 2018 winter Olympics, bobsledder A.J. Edelman came up on a dating app I was using. Edelman went to MIT, represented Team Israel in Skeleton, and is currently getting an MBA at Yale while training for the 2022 Winter games. I messaged him something like “Hey! How’s your Tuesday?” Like an Olympic torch crashing into a 50 meter pool, our love was extinguished.
I have been humbled by my own mediocrity, and I am determined to help others not to make the same mistake. So, I have conducted a non-scientific review of how U.S. Olympic athletes meet their partners, by analyzing dozens of current and former American Olympians. I have narrowed down the best ways to meet an Olympian.
Good luck! I say this sincerely—you are really going to need it.
The best way to date an Olympian is to be an elite athlete.
I am horrified to inform you that the best way to ensure that you end up with an Olympian is to be a professional athlete yourself. Ideally, you should actually be an Olympian. There are dozens of Olympic couples—think Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, or figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and ice hockey player Bret Hadican, who met at the 1992 Olympics. Cyclists Laura and Jason Kenny, who are competing for Team Great Britain in Tokyo, have, between the two of them, enough gold to open a boutique jeweler. And in the hottest situation imaginable, Gerek Meinhardt and Lee Kiefer are married Olympians on the American fencing team, and are also both in medical school. He already picked up a bronze in Tokyo, she won gold.
But if you aren’t up to the Olympic level, it’s absolutely fine to just be a professional athlete. Simone Biles’ boyfriend, Jonathan Owens, is an NFL player. Allyson Felix’s husband, Kenneth Ferguson, used to run for the United States, too. Alix Klineman, who just advanced to the women’s volleyball quarterfinals, is engaged to Teddy Purcell, a former NHL player. Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson is married to Derron Herrah, a pro-runner turned coach.
Another way to date an Olympian is to meet them before they become an Olympian
If you cannot walk for 3 blocks without pausing to take a little phone break, not all is lost. Eddy Alvarez stands out even among Olympians—he has a silver medal for speedskating in the winter Olympics, and in Tokyo he’ll go for a summer medal, this time in baseball. His wife, somewhat reassuringly, is a real estate agent. But they met in elementary school.
So yes, a non-athlete can meet an Olympian, but it’s best to start early. Champion surfer Carissa Moore is married to her high school sweetheart. Gymnast Mykayla Skinner, who took home a silver this week for the vault, was introduced to her husband through friends in college. Runner-turned-filmmaker Alexi Pappas, who ran for Greece at the 2016 Olympics, also met her husband in college. (They connected while dancing at a rap concert, which feels like it is moving in the right direction, in terms of physical requirements.)
After that, things begin to become physically demanding again—two-time Tokyo gold medalist Bobby Finke is dating Ellie Zweifel, who swims for the University of Florida. And swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who picked up a casual five gold medals in Tokyo, met his wife on his high school swim team.
A third great way to date an Olympian is to be superlative in your field
Perhaps you saw Team Great Britain diver Tom Daley, who looks like a greek statue that has been animated by the gods, and thought, “Who gets to be with that guy?” The answer is Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who wrote Milk, the 2008 Harvey Milk biopic. Rugby-player and champion Olympic TikTok-maker Cody Melphy is married to influencer Payton Melphy.
Nick Wagman, who is representing the United States in dressage, told Out Sports that he met his husband through a series of events that included all of the above factors. Wagman’s now-husband, Kurt Gering, appeared on The Real World (superlative in his field!) and Wagman was a viewer. One night, Wagman was at a bar that was playing The Real World, Gering walked in. (Met him before he was an Olympian.) Also, Gering is a triathlete. It’s the perfect combination: Wagman and Gering have been together for more than 20 years.
So! The recipe for Olympic love is simple. The strongest situation you can create for yourself if you are determined to be with an Olympian: Change careers, take up an extreme sport, and trust the universe makes it happen. Or, pay up the $9.99/month for Tinder Passport, and take your chances.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
Originally Appeared on Glamour