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Walk This Way

I have been fortunate to have written before with a dilemma and received a wonderfully astute answer – and a dressing down from you at that!

Hence I trust you or your readers to be very honest with me on the following issue, should you wish to address it on your site.

I am a slow walker. I always have been – I have never been athletic and even as a skinny teenager I tended to dawdle more than most.

Now I am an overweight adult (thanks in part to bad habits, and in part to treatment for Thyroid cancer) who is suffering from arthritis that affects my hands and feet. Needless to say, I walk slower than ever.

I still like to walk as much as possible to improve my health and, despite the physical pain it causes, I have always liked a wander.

Most of my friends understand that I walk slowly and are kind enough to fall in step with me when we are to walk a good distance.

I always leave time to make it to my destination at my own speed.

However, on rare occasions, if I am walking with a friend who is in a hurry or impatient, I suggest we split a cab fare or that they go on ahead and I meet them at our destination when I arrive.

This has always been a polite discourse and almost everyone is understanding – that is, except my dearest and closest friend, with whom I have shared a home for the past five years.

My friend never falls in step with me. In fact, going anywhere with him is an ordeal. He is athletic and energetic, and always walks at his own fast pace, leaving me huffing and struggling to keep up, while inevitably falling ten or more feet behind him the whole way to our destination.

I often call for him to slow down, and he often calls back at me to hurry up. He’ll always walk metres ahead, complain the whole way that I am too slow and wax on about how long it “should” take for us to reach our destination. This can be quite humiliating for me.

Often, we end up arguing about his refusal to walk at my speed, at which point he just angrily asks for the house keys and races ahead, leaving me to walk home alone.

I have tried to explain how hurtful his behavior is, but he’s convinced that he’s “encouraging” me to go faster. I have told him repeatedly that I am going as fast as I can – and I literally am.

In fact, his behavior has the opposite effect to getting me going, as I often want to spare us the ordeal of walking together and hence hail a taxi for us instead. Or avoid going out altogether.

I am not making excuses for myself – I am fat and slow. But I wonder what the polite thing to do is? Should he force himself to fall in step with me and walk beside me? Or should we just take cabs so I can spare him the frustration of my slow crawl?

I know he’s being rude, but I wonder if I am too, by expecting him to walk at my pace. I’d like some advice as to the correct way to proceed with our outings in future.

I want to make it clear that my friend is not simply embarrassed to walk with me because of my appearance. He is in other respects a dear and loyal friend who would never in a million years criticize the way I look. He however sees no problem with us simply walking several metres apart – he at his speed and me at mine, while I think it’s quite rude of him. Hence the source of our walking tug of war!

I thank you for any advice. 1227-12

Your walking pace is what it is due to physical limitations.   I, too, am a slow walker due to an inherited hip problem and the reality of that is not going to change.   My husband and I have an unspoken agreement about it.   He always opens the car door and building doors for me but it is not unusual for him to walk about 5 to 10 feet ahead of me.   My kids do the same thing when we are walking from Point A to Point B such as from a parking space into a restaurant.   They are attentive if there is an unusually high curb to step up or a series of steps to climb and offer a hand.   I viewed it as they are scouting out the terrain to make sure it’s Mom safe.   In a store, we split up and meet up at the registers at a specified time.

But if there is considerable walking to do, such as site seeing or a day at an amusement park we rent a scooter or wheelchair otherwise I would be a painful mess by the end of the day.   Then they match their walking pace to the scooter or push the wheelchair themselves.   Everyone is happy with that arrangement.

I see it as a compromise.   I do not have an expectation that they must walk side by side with me and I am open to arrangements that gives them the freedom to walk at their pace.   Conversely, they show consideration by being alert to possible walking difficulties I might have.   To be honest, I have never given it much thought since this compromise works so well.    You and your friend need to come to an agreement on how you both shall reach Point B from Point A in a way that is good for both of you.  Your requests that he slow down and his hassling you to walk faster is not working.   The discussion you need to have your with friend is the level of courtesy he shows when you are walking since he could work on being more attentive to your safety.


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  • --Lia January 9, 2013, 9:27 am

    From his point of view, he’s getting what he wants. He “encourages” you to go faster, and you go faster– even though it makes you out of breath. You talk to him calmly about how unhappy you are with his behavior; he doesn’t change it, and he still gets what he wants. He doesn’t have to walk slowly with you. You suggest alternative solutions; he doesn’t take any of them, and he still gets what he wants. Sounds like a win to him, and if you’re losing, why should he care?

    So try this. He walks on ahead and you slow down. He walks even faster, and you walk even slower. He walks faster still, and you find a bench and sit on it. He hurries on ahead, and you get that taxi without him. It may take him a while to figure out what’s going on, but he’ll figure it out that his learned behaviors aren’t earning him the same results. There may even be a noisy argument, but that’s better than speaking calmly and not being heard or paid attention to at all.

  • Cami January 9, 2013, 9:48 am

    Well, first of all, I’d suggest he carry his own set of keys.

  • sio8bhan January 9, 2013, 10:14 am

    I see nothing rude in your behavior. He’s being passive-aggressive for no apparent reason. You’ve encouraged him to get a cab together, etc. but he keeps up a pretense of being kind and helpful, but really being a rude idiot. He probably thinks that if you “really wanted to, you could walk faster and be really healthy, blah blah” Some people don’t believe others’ physical or mental disabilities unless they can SEE it, and have a diagram of your ailment.
    I’ve witnessed this attitude from a very few friends, who think if you do this or that , you won’t have a problem eg- “toughing it out” when you have diagnosed depression. Obviously, people like that have NEVER experienced real depression.
    Try to ignore him when he’s charging ahead, like he’s just another pedestrian, or flatly refuse to walk anywhere with him.

  • CaffeineKatie January 9, 2013, 10:27 am

    I, too, am a slow walker due to my health. Your friend is rude, rude, rude…but why do you put up with this? Get two sets of house keys, and refuse to walk faster than you feel comfortable doing. I also tell others “Walk at your own pace and I will meet you there” and then it is up to them to pick their own speed. But harrassing you while you struggle to keep up–no way!

  • egl January 9, 2013, 10:40 am

    Unless you need to stay together, it would probably be best if you both travel at your own speeds. If you do need to stay together, it’s customary to match the speed of the slower person. The cab idea is reasonable, though potentially expensive, compromise.

    Unless there’s a reason you can’t make a copy, it sounds like some of your friend’s impatience could be curbed if he had his own key.

  • Elizabeth January 9, 2013, 10:47 am

    A compromise must be reached. Expecting your friend to fall into your pace isn’t a compromise.

  • The Elf January 9, 2013, 11:01 am

    I’m a fast walker too, and walking slow makes me nutty. When I walk with my husband, I have to constantly remind myself to slow down (and he sometimes has to remind me) because he’s slowed down over the years due to arthritis. Thankfully, it’s still a fairly fast pace, just not as fast as it used to be. My body doesn’t like a slower pace and my klutziness increases by walking so slowly. One of the reasons I developed a fast pace is because I am completely NOT athletic! I guess we klutzes find our own ways to deal! (And what really makes me nutty? Having to slow my pace because an extremely slow group is taking up the whole sidewalk so that I can’t pass. Grrrrr.)

    Barring physical limiations, people should naturally adjust to meet the pace of the person you are with (increase if you are slow, decrease if you are fast, reaching a nice middle) if you want to enjoy that person’s company, assuming this is over a considerable distance. For short distances, it doesn’t really matter.

    With physical limitations in the picture, it all changes. I assume friend knows about your problems? Then he’s being rude by simultaneously not slowing down and “encouraging” you to walk faster. Unless he’s your doctor, he has no idea of what you are and aren’t capable of, and knowing your problems he should assume that you are already going as fast as you can. Since this is something he’s not willing to compromise on, don’t even bother to try to speed up. Why put yourself in pain? Tell him to meet you at the destination. He’ll just have to make do.

  • Princess Buttercup January 9, 2013, 11:12 am

    I’m a fast walker. Faster than anyone I know personally. Despite being fat most of my life and having bad knees for 15ish years now, I just always walk fast. It’s not uncommon for me to take off and leave my friends huffing and puffing in my dust. However, when they remind me that they can’t keep up I slow down and match their pace. Why? Because they are my friend and I care about spending time with them.
    My friends can’t keep up with me, that’s not going to magically change because I nag them. They can’t accommodate me so instead I accommodate them and slow down.

  • Cat January 9, 2013, 11:39 am

    Your dearest and closest friend is stopping just short of using a cattle prod to hurry you along. You are going at your top speed and he is shouting at you to hurry up? To me, that is abusive behavior.
    There are options: a motorized scooter, a bike if you can handle one, a wheel chair, a walker that will make him look a true fool for yelling at you; it depends on your ability and what you prefer. I like the idea of something with speed so you can rush ahead of him and yell at him to keep up.

  • Enna January 9, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I have to say I agree with Admin on this one, OP your firend should be more patient with you, he isn’t encouraging you. How has he been loyal if he thinks he is encouraging you? Is there anyway he could help you? I like Admin’s suggestion about the scooter.

  • Cherry January 9, 2013, 12:19 pm

    I see the fault as being entirely on your friend. His comment about “encouraging” you to walk faster is patronising and just plain offensive – does he think that arthritis is something that can be shaken off with exercise?

    Due to an old sports injury that flares up infrequently, I have times where I walk with a slight limp. My friends are good enough to slow their pace when this happens (it can occur with no warning). I’ve never had to ask. I can be quite aware of how slowly I’m walking when this happens, so I can imagine how humiliating OP’s friend’s actions can be.

    I think it might be necessary for the OP to evaluate just how good a friend Mr Roadrunner actually is.

  • acr January 9, 2013, 12:24 pm

    From what you’ve described, I do think your roommate is being very rude and pushy. However, the fact that he doesn’t want to walk at your pace is not itself rude. I would not see him as being rude if he walked at his own pace and left you to walk at your pace. I don’t really understand why he has to get the house keys from you…if each of you took your own set of keys on these walks, it might help.

    Him hassling you to speed up isn’t polite, but honestly, your asking him to slow down also isn’t polite.

  • Surianne January 9, 2013, 12:29 pm

    You’ve said he’s fine with you both walking several metres apart — is there a reason you’re not okay with this? It seems like the easiest solution to me. If he’s willing to walk ahead and then wait for you at the destination, problem solved.

    There’s no reason you need to walk *together* all the time, if the goal is to get somewhere and spend time together once you’re there.

    I’m a fast walker with fairly long legs and it’s very uncomfortable to walk extremely slowly. I find myself having to take tiny steps to keep pace with the slow person, which make my knees feel all out of whack and painful. So I can empathize with your friend here. Just as walking quickly isn’t comfortable for you, walking slowly isn’t comfortable for him.

  • Harley Granny January 9, 2013, 12:44 pm

    I totally agree with admin.
    Please don’t stop walking!!! I admire that you’re out there doing this. A lot of people (my own father) give up too easily and is now needing a walker or scooter to get around.

    If you’ve talked to him on numerous occations about this and he still won’t change, then continue to walk at your own pace. You’ll be doing him a favor…all that huffing and puffing of his will burn more calories for him and you’ll have a more peaceful walk.

  • Jenn50 January 9, 2013, 12:55 pm

    My best friend is a full foot taller than me, all legs. A single stride of hers is equal to almost two of mine. When she is walking at her usual brisk pace, I have to run to keep up, and I can’t carry on much of a conversation, and I look like a ridiculous puppy scampering alongside her. I used to scurry along trying to keep up, and realized that I was MISERABLE. She is oblivious. So now, I make a conscious effort to continue to walk at a comfortable pace for me; brisk, but not running. I stop talking to her when she’s out of range of a comfortable conversation and often, she’s a good 20 feet ahead of me before she notices. I don’t shout for her to slow down, but I don’t run to keep up. She used to complain about how slowly we were going, until I reminded her of the fact that physics have left her with a much bigger stride than me, and what is comfortably brisk to her requires MUCH more effort for me. We have agreed that we are not compatible workout buddies, so we don’t try to power walk or jog together, but if the point of the excursion is enjoying each other’s company, she will have to slow down.

    If your friend cannot accommodate your (medically induced) walking style, perhaps he does not much value your comfort and company. Either way, it might be best to meet him where you’re going, rather than subjecting either of you to a pace you’re unhappy with.

  • The Elf January 9, 2013, 1:02 pm

    I’m just kind of astounded both parties apparantly care about this so much. Friend uses their own keys, each party walks at their own pace, meet up later. There should be no expectation on either side that one slow down/speed up. Although, it is nice to be able to companionably walk together, so I understand the appeal. But it seems to be beyond this pair, so they need to just accept the difference.

  • Kit January 9, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I’m wondering why do you suggest *splitting* a cab fare when *they* could make the destination in time by foot?

    And at the same time I worry about you calling this abusive and rude person your closest and dearest friend…

    I’m a fast walker, too, but I try to match my pace when walking with someone slower, say, young neighbour child, bringing him home from school, when I see my pace makes him half run (even though, most of time I walk fast thinking I will just nip ahead and have car doors open )we have problems with them recently) by the time he is there, poor kid), or for my MIL or GMIL. For the last ones, I have found that offering them to lean on my arm is a good way to keep me from walking too fast.

  • ~Dessa~ January 9, 2013, 1:09 pm

    I am a slow walker, my husband is a fast walker. For years, we accommodated the difference by putting the kids between us. Dad led the way, Mom brought up the rear. If anyone wandered off, everyone stopped until the wanderer was returned. Now, we put grandkids between us. When we were on romantic walks, however, he slowed down to my pace. I do my best, but decades of arthritis have taken their toll on me. Compromise is necessary.

  • Calli Arcale January 9, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Good advice all round. He’s being rude, and in the long run what’s needed is a compromise of some sort. I’m a fast walker, but short of stature, and have married a fast walker who is also quite tall — consequently, he walks faster than I. Our children go slower still (sometimes painfully slow!) and we often have to remind him not to leave us behind when we’re at the mall or wherever. But this is done courteously, and he does not take offense, and drops back to our speed. We have also been known to divide our efforts if any one group is going to be slower than the other and there are a lot of stops to make during a particular outing.

    But the shoe is on other foot for him sometimes, as he likes to work out with his brother, and his brother is much more athletic. When they go for runs, my brother-in-law leaves my husband in the dust, and they have agreed that while DH will try and keep up with BIL, the reality is that DH will fall behind and catch up at the end of the run, and they are both okay with that. 😉 It helps that DH is proud of his brother for being so fast, and BIL can bask in the knowledge that he’s better than his big brother in something. It’s all about compromise, mutual respect, and finding an equilibrium that works.

  • F January 9, 2013, 1:38 pm

    I think you have to figure out what you are trying to get out of the activity. Exercise? Then you should walk at your own paces apart. Companionship? Does your roommate think you spend enough time together that he doesn’t think you two need to spend the time together? Or is it so frustrating for you to walk at the other’s pace neither of you have fun walking? You should match speeds if you’re walking for companionship. Trying to get from one place to another? A cab or walking apart may be the best solution. It appears you don’t like walking fast, and he doesn’t like going slow, so you should just accept that walking is not a good activity for you to do together.

  • Lita January 9, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Kudos to you, OP, for still walking and not giving up! That must be a very enjoyable experience! 🙂

    I’m another fast walker who finds it very uncomfortable to walk slowly, thanks to medical issues, and even when reminded (though I do try to keep in mind that not everyone can walk as fast as me), I still tend to find myself leaving whoever I’m with in the figurative dust, and I end up stopping to let them catch up only to do it all over again. I’m not trying to defend your friend, OP – I think he’s being terribly rude, and even bordering on abusive with trying to get you to move faster than you’re able! – but perhaps he’s one of those people who honestly has trouble trying to slow down? (Although not even that would excuse him – he’s capable of matching his pace to yours, and you’re NOT capable of matching yours to his, so the onus is on him to just slow the heck down already, since he’s the one who can actually do something about it!)

    I hope you’re able to work something out. This sort of situation is just no fun for anyone.

  • Allie January 9, 2013, 2:50 pm

    This is an odd situation in that, as Admin suggests, this is something that is usually worked out easily and often the solution is unspoken. People just intuitively either slow down for the slower person or meet them at the destination. It’s not rocket science. I recently became a temporary slow walker due to pregnancy and childbirth. Depending on the circumstances, my husband and others with whom I find myself walking will choose one of the two options and, with the exchange of no or very few words, we’re all on the same page and everyone’s happy. I cannot understand why your friend is unable to do this. He may be a control freak, completely self-centred or suffering from some kind of social disorder that is impeding his grasp of your point-of-view. Whatever the case, you are apparently wasting your breath trying to reason with him. Give him a key, walk at your own pace and if he doesn’t like it tell him to bugger off.

  • Drawberry January 9, 2013, 3:04 pm

    This friend is ignoring your physical health and well-being in a misguided belief that if you’re fat and slow it’s because you are lazy. He isn’t taking your word as the owner of your own body that you are physically pushing yourself as hard as you can, which is incredibly disrespectful on so many levels. The next time he argues that he’s encouraging you, ask him to what he believes he’s encouraging;

    “Are you encouraging me to hurt myself? You’re not my doctor, you don’t live in my body. When I tell you this is my limit, respect my words and listen.”

    You are already going above and beyond the physical safety of your bodies capabilities, a true friend would respect you and not heckle. You’ve offered for him to go ahead or get cab, he chooses to stay behind and verbally tear you down for your physical limitations.

    He does not sound like a dear friend to my ears.

  • Valerie January 9, 2013, 3:14 pm

    This is a friend? So how do your enemies treat you?

  • Karen January 9, 2013, 4:08 pm

    I’m a very fast walker because I use my feet (and public transit) as my primary means of transportation. I used to be like OP’s friend, hurrying along, passing slow pokes, getting to my destination as quickly as I could, and I’ll admit I never thought about anyone who may have wanted to walk with me.

    Then, I broke my foot and spent the snowiest winter Boston has ever had in a walking cast. That experience made me stop and realize how treacherous and difficult walking can be for some people. I’m back to my normal speed now, but I will never be as inconsiderate as I was before this injury.

    OP, if you want to shove your friend in a giant boot I have one you can borrow!

  • remi January 9, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Your friend is being incredibly rude, and it’s not just because of how appallingly he is treating you. A good friend respects your physical limitations and doesn’t try to “encourage” you by ignoring what you are not actually capable of doing because it’s inconvenient for him, and I really like Lia’s suggestion — after all, he’s clearly shown that he won’t listen if you try to ask him to slow down. Some might call it passive-agressive, but I disagree. It’s just trying a different tactic when the first one is being ignored.

    I feel that anybody who does not make an effort to match walking speed on a friendly walk is being rude. Of course it’s another matter altogether if the point of the walk is exercise or something, but if the point of going out is to spend time together it’s incredibly rude to then walk several feet ahead, out of conversation range, when the slower person can’t keep up. That’s not to say the slower person has every right to dawdle and drag their feet, but if they have to start practically jogging to keep up with the faster person, then it’s on the faster person to slow their pace.

  • I LOVE BOOKS January 9, 2013, 4:20 pm

    I have CP, (mild, though), and I CAN’T walk as fast or run as fast as others. It used to bother me and still does from time to time. People who don’t understand or accept that aren’t really your friends if you’ve already explained it to them. Come up with a compromise or don’t go anywhere together.

  • Tracy January 9, 2013, 4:26 pm

    It’s difficult to compromise when one person is physically incapable of meeting the other person halfway. I think that if he continues his childish and selfish (yes, I find it extremely so) behavior, you will simply have to accept that the two of you cannot walk anywhere together.

  • Darkmoon January 9, 2013, 6:31 pm

    I walk faster than my mom when we go places. It’s just how it is, my stride is longer and quicker (though I’m not taller) and for me to walk at her pace it would be very stilted and unnatural. But I also don’t try to leave her too far behind or try to make her walk faster. If I get too far away I’ll stop and wait for her to catch up. If there is something I want to show her, go back tell her and walk with her to it. This arrangement works very well for both of us. I get to run around and look at everything, and she doesn’t have to hurry. And she’ll send me to go get things if we have time constraints, because I’ll do it quicker. Sure the faster person has to walk more than the slower, but I certainly don’t mind at all.

  • VM January 9, 2013, 10:39 pm

    He’s definitely rude to insist his pace is the standard by which paces are to be measured, announcing what time a walk should take and harangue you for being slower. It’s even more obnoxious that he does it in the guise of “helping” you!

    However, it can be as taxing for a fast walker to hobble their steps as it is for you to be forced into a game of catch-up, especially for a walk of a “good distance”. If I slow my pace to match my husband’s walk for a continuous ten minutes, I irritate my lower back problems.

    Unless you’re walking in a dodgy place where being alone isn’t wise , why must you walk in tandem? (If you live together you’re not missing out on companionship!) Instead of setting out together, why not just agree to meet at the destination around such and such a time? You leave first at the time you know it will take you, leaving him to leave at the time he “knows it should take.” Hopefully you’ll be ahead at all times and literally not be in a position to have him complaining for you to hurry up. And both of you should have copies of the housekeys regardless.

  • FizzyChip January 9, 2013, 11:48 pm

    To dawdle out of preference is one thing, to be slower than your companion due to physical liitations (whatever they may be) is quite another. My (now ex) partner has bad knees due to arthritis, and I would never speak to him about speeding up, because I know he walks as fast as he can.

    OP your friend has not responded to a gentle talking to, & while it is a bit “tit-for-tat”, have you tried being as blunt with him as he is of you? Most people would respond to a simple request, the fact that he has not done so, suggests to me that he either doesn’t fully understand, or that he doesn’t care to. Otherwise, I would suggest NOT calling out to him to slow. You take as long as you take & if he walks ahead of you, then that’s HIS choice, he can cool his heals on the front steps until you arrive.

    The suggestion also of two sets of house keys make sense.

  • NostalgicGal January 10, 2013, 12:29 am

    My DH is taller than me, longer legs, and always would sprint off like a gazelle. I am not a slow walker but I walk at my pace, especially if it’s cold out, I’d breathe and move as fast as the cold air allowed. A few times it was not good… One time as I was exiting a vehicle and he was already halfways to the building, I slipped when I turned back to get something off the seat (icy lot) and clonked myself. I didn’t pass out but I sat there for awhile on the snow and ice until I could function again, and he comes steaming back finally to yell at me because I didn’t come INTO (xyz shop). I stuck my bloody tongue on him and got back in car (yes I bit my tongue when I whonked myself). Oh. It didn’t sit good that I had been looped for a good ten minutes and could’ve been taken advantage of AND had the car stolen because he couldn’t wait a few seconds to make sure I at least started for the building. (one incidence, several more things I won’t relate)

    He would sprint along and leave me and I would just plod along. I would also ignore whatever he was blathering about as being behind him I couldn’t hear half of it… which would make him totally furious. I finally started grabbing his beltloops as he passed me and would hang on. If he tried to pull forward or pull me forward, I’d let go and let him do whatever he wanted. And totally ignore anything he was on about when he was ahead of me. If he wanted me to listen, he could slow down.

    A few more years. He did some dumbfool things and screwed up his knee a couple of times and his back. Now he has issues walking and I can walk right away from him and leave him in the dust. I wish he didn’t have a big cold dish of poetic justice but.

    It is just plain Inconsiderate and Rude that the OP’s housefriend will not accomodate the different pacing. Give him his own key, let him gazelle on, and ignore all his passive aggressives. Walk your own pace. At least you’re walking. Or over the years as I broke my DH in about be considerate, if there are places in the route for him to pause, then he should at least pause. I know, when I have to do exercise walking, I need to keep up a pace for a certain length of time. If he feels he has to do that, then suggest he start the walk without you (if you go from house to destination and back) and you join him enroute somewhere. After he gets the edge off his need to sprint….

    The other option is just to quit walking with him, and tell him why; plainly. You can’t walk that fast and you refuse to be in pain and short of breath because that’s not an enjoyable walk to you, it’s misery. If he had every walk he wanted to take be sheer misery, he wouldn’t want to do them either.

    A friend of mine that was slower than I was, I would often send them to start without me as I could and would catch up. That way she could get started and get going… and I would only have to match her part ways. Or meet her at the destination.

  • OP January 10, 2013, 12:56 am

    OP here. I feel like I need to defend my friend here a tad – he is very impatient and yes he can be selfish! But he is not abusive – we are rather like brother and sister, and we tend to quarrel like a brother and sister. We do spend a lot of time together so no he doesn’t feel we need to walk together if we are having dinner together or whatnot when we get there anyway. He does have his own keys but constantly forgets them! I think Drawberry has got it – I think he ascribes my speed to being a lazy fat person to some degree and truly doesn’t understand my limitations. I’ll have a chat to him and let him know what the Admin said as we have so long quibbled over it!

  • WillyNilly January 10, 2013, 1:27 am

    It sounds to me like your friend is slowing his pace, just not enough, since often times he’s within earshot of you and he’s complaining the walk is taking longer (indicating he’s slowed his own pace). And it sounds to me like you are calling for him to slow instead of actually being ok with him walking faster. Since he’s already slowed his pace, he might not realize how much effort you are exerting speeding yours. Its probably uncomfortable for him to slow, but he might not realize it actually hurts you. So he might be feeling ‘attacked’ because he feels you aren’t recognizing his effort, because he thinks his effort is equal to yours and you are implying its less – he might think your effort is simply uncomfortable, not actually painful. Because truly it can be extremely uncomfortable (physically, spatially and even mentally/emotionally because it throws off the persons mental clock and triggers “we’ll be late!” emotions) for a fast walker to slow. It might not be painful, but its very uncomfortable.

  • spyderqueen January 10, 2013, 7:37 am

    Why not just hold on to the keys. If he wants to walk so fast, he can stand at the door and wait for you.

  • Cami January 10, 2013, 11:48 am

    If he has his own keys, but keeps forgetting them, that’s his problem. He’s not ten and you’re not his mother. So stop enabling him. He can either wait for you at the door or learn to take them along.

  • Lauren January 10, 2013, 12:04 pm

    I have a coworker who’s very tall and a fast walker. When we would go out for walks she would always wind up way ahead of the group, as some of the ladies were older and far slower, and I walked with them because it was more comfortable. On our second time out we hit upon an interesting solution. When the fast walker got too far ahead, we would yell “lunges” and she would do slow lunges until we caught up. We only walked on public trails and not in town, but it worked as it made her keep within talking range.

  • Anon1973 January 10, 2013, 3:43 pm

    “I have tried to explain how hurtful his behavior is, but he’s convinced that he’s “encouraging” me to go faster.”
    Then I would reply: “Thank you, but I do not need any encouragement. I’m fine with the speed I’m walking.”

  • RooRoo January 10, 2013, 7:59 pm

    I find myself harumphing quite a bit, both at the story and at some of the comments. I was raised to keep pace with the slowest; my very dear grandmother was crippled, and walked very slowly. It was impressed upon me at an early age that to walk away from her was RUDE and that there would be consequences. (Yay, Mom!)

    My horror story: on our way home from a trip, we stopped in the town where his best friends (a couple, that he had introduced) lived. The four of us were comfy clothes, pudgy types. But on this visit…
    They said, let’s go out to this great restaurant! So we all got in their car and went. They were dressed to go out; we were in the kind of clothes you wear on a long road trip.

    They drove to their great spot to park, close to the restaurant, but no parallel parking involved.

    Their “close” parking spot was at least half a mile from the restaurant, and the path to get to the street was rough and unlit. They apparently hadn’t noticed the cane I was using to walk, and my limp. (I have bad feet to begin with, and had re-injured my knee, which a horse had fallen on years ago.) They and DH walked off happily catching up, and I watched them get further and further away as I gimped along. Luckily, I still found my way to the restaurant.

    DH was sorry, and embarrassed about walking off. They were irritated. To increase their rudeness, they had invited another couple along (also fashionably dressed) and spent the evening talking to them, and occasionally speaking to us, condescendingly, about her new, high-paying job, and about haw they had gotten all fit. (We had thought it would be the four of us catching up and camaraderie.) I was strongly reminded of 7th-8th grade. Perhaps the other couple was invited so they could show off their new, cool friends.

    They were prepared to make me walk back to the car again. I said (somewhat firmly, I’m afraid), that I would wait right there until they came for me.

    We haven’t seen them since. Poor DH; a couple of years later I asked if he had heard from them, and he said, “I don’t think they’re interested in us any more.”

    Anyway you look at it, it’s rude to walk ahead just because you can. If you don’t feel you’re getting enough exercise, than take a lot of very short steps. Either that, or find an exercise partner who walks at the same speed as you. But if all you’re doing is getting from point A to point B, you stick together. You don’t ditch your friend because your legs are longer or you’re more fit.

  • Brockwest January 11, 2013, 5:41 pm

    I have the position of being a life-long fast walker (is this a Seinfield episode), then being reduced to a slow walker by injury. I feel for both sides. It’s VERY difficult if you are tall with long legs to shuffle along with a slow walker (who is not injured or elderly.) I tended to walk and stop and walk and stop to keep pace with my short-legged wife.
    Now I’m a slow walker with a long stride, so I end up doing pretty much the same.
    That being said, it is inexcusable to actually Leave someone behind in the dust. You can always stop and enjoy the view every few feet.
    In the case of the handicapped (being one myself now), I find it absolutely correct to ask to be dropped and picked up at the door. Your handicap may not be as noticeable as you think. I find most people would absolutely agree to drop off, so it’s incumbent on the person who needs help to ask, if they find they are being parked a long distance away.

  • GleanerGirl January 12, 2013, 10:41 pm

    I’ve never been a fast walker, either. However, after a bad car crash, my hip causes problems, and there are simply limits to my ability to walk. Yes, I’m fat, but that came before the accident. The 18-wheeler was NOT my fault, and I should not be penalized or “encouraged” to go beyond my abilities, or told that I need to step it up to get off the weight, or that if I would just exercise more, I’d be thin, and my multiple spinal injuries would just magically heal themselves.

    Sometimes, if there is a lot of walking involved, or I’m having a bad day, I’ll even get a scooter at the store.

    I hate, Hate, HATE it when people tell me I’m not good enough, because I’m not walking at the speed THEY (uninjured and healthy) think is the right one. I’m doing my best, and that is all I can do. And anyone who “encourages” me to walk faster than I can is going to have a long wait on their hands, while I sit down for a much-needed rest. Why? Because when I do push myself beyond my limits, I pay for it for DAYS. So, yes, I might just be able to keep up with you for half an hour today, but I’ll be laid up in bed for the next three days. Or, I can go at my pace today, and every day. Let’s see. Which option makes more sense? Hmmmm, that’s a toughie.

    Talk to your friend, and explain the situation to him, but do it when you are both sitting comfortably, with nowhere to go. If he still insists that you need to walk faster to keep up with him, then simply tell him you will never walk anywhere with him again. You can be friends in every area of your life, except for that. Plan to take cabs or walk alone. And please bring your Mace with you, because if your strong man leaves you to walk alone, you might need some extra protection.

  • GleanerGirl January 12, 2013, 10:49 pm

    While it is true that going at the slowest person’s pace is not compromise, it is kindness.

    Taller people generally have longer strides, which leads to a faster rate of motion, even if the legs themselves are striding at the same pace. Thus, men usually walk faster than women, even if both are healthy and fit. Thus, when a gentleman takes a lady’s arm, to walk side by side with her, he has to slow down to match her pace. It is considered polite to do so.

  • The Elf January 13, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Regarding keeping pace with the slowest: Baring injury or some other medical reason (or even just walking in heels), I do resent this idea that the everyone needs to slow down to the speed of the slowest. As stated by numerous people here, it isn’t exactly easy or comfortable to do so if you naturally have a fast pace. I end up mincing my steps, which, since I’m a bit klutzy, leaves my feet all tangled up and I’m more apt to trip. It would make more sense for the faster ones to slow down a bit and the slower ones to speed up, meeting in the middle. The idea is not to inconvenience others, isn’t it? Slowing down oneself is every bit as inconvenient as speeding up your pace. Why should you expect that someone else to inconvenience themselves while you just go along at whatever pace you find comfortable?

    Again, this assumes all people involved are healthy and there’s no reason other than comfort to maintain a slow pace.

  • Daphne January 14, 2013, 12:28 am

    My husband has always walked faster than me since we started dating 28 years ago. He basically speed walks every where he goes. I walk at an average pace. Over the years I have just learned to be prepared for when he takes off. I always have my phone and keys, and I just don’t worry about it any more. I make a note as to where the car is parked and I also don’t hesitate to window shop or do whatever we had planned along the way. If we are on a shopping trip for instance, I shop. I don’t worry that he is 20 ft. ahead of me hell bent on speeding nowhere. Eventually he always sheepishly doubles back when he realizes he has lost me.

  • FerrisW January 15, 2013, 3:51 pm

    In my youth, I used to spend the summers doing what we call ‘tramping’- walking a considerable distance through the bush, before pitching camp, then doing the same thing the next day. Each time, the leader of the group would have us walk for a mile and then stop. She would then take the slowest walkers and put them at the front, and the faster walkers at the back. It was about safety and sticking together as a group, and also about fairness- if someone was limited for a reason, instead of leaving them, you reined yourself in to their capability. To me, walking ahead of someone who physically cannot walk any faster, is similar to sitting at a high bar on a stool, when you’re with a friend in a wheelchair- it’s rude and inconsiderate.

    My mother now walks very slowly because of her MS. My parents used to go for daily walks together at quite a brisk pace, but my father had trouble adapting to the much slower pace. Now they stroll together, arm in arm, and enjoy each other’s company at the pace my mother can handle, and if he feels he hasn’t had enough exercise, then he goes out for another, faster walk later that day on his own.

    OP, your friend is rude and inconsiderate for ignoring your feelings. This is a situation where I would say ‘It’s my way or the highway’ and mean that he can walk with you, or he can make his own way somewhere, but cannot complain about how long you take. Also, I would refuse to give him the keys- if he wants to rush ahead, he can sit and wait, or learn to be a responsible adult and carry his own keys.

  • Anne January 19, 2013, 4:12 pm

    My mother has always been a very slow walker. When the whole family was walking together, the rest of us would naturally (and with very little discussion about it) take turns walking with Mom so that she wasn’t alone–and since I am closer to her (short) height than the others, I sometimes ended up walking with her more than the others just because I was a little slower than the others anyway (if we noticed that Mom was falling behind enough to be out of easy conversation range, one of us would fall back to where she was, depending on who was less involved in the current conversation–and sometimes that was me because I was having to work a little to keep up anyway). If we were walking for exercise, though, we’d usually be on a track and just lap her and slow down to walk with her when we wanted to catch our breath.

    My grandma also walks slower than the rest of us (understandably, and especially if the terrain is uneven), so we’ll make sure one of us walks with her and lets her take their arm for safety–and that person feels honored that they get to take care of Grandma a bit, so we naturally take turns on that, too.

    Right now I walk much slower than usual because of pregnancy, and my (much taller) husband does sometimes forget to slow down for me (it used to be that he slowed down a little and I sped up a little, but since this is a temporary speed change it’s not something he’s adjusted to yet). But he’ll go ahead and unlock and open doors for me, so it’s not really that big a deal, though I will sometimes call out to him to slow down for me (usually he slows down, but not quite as much as I’d like!). I tell him that I’ll just make him carry the baby once it gets here, and then he’ll slow down! But a lot of the time he does slow down to my pace so automatically that I don’t even notice–or else he’ll drop me off at the front door of someplace and then go park. I’m pretty sure that it is normal courtesy to try not to leave somebody in the dust….

    Maybe you could take walks with a couple more friends, besides just this one? If you get another slow walker to go out with you, your friend may slow down because rushing ahead will mean he gets left out of the conversation. Or get him to carry a lot of stuff, I guess…. You can’t force somebody to be considerate.

  • Luna April 15, 2013, 6:50 am

    My son told me he believes I walk slowly on purpose. He says I slow down if he slows down. He is impatient, irritable, and angry with me about this. I am tired of defending myself. I told him I do the best I possibly can to keep up. Now, I just remain silent and let him rant about it. I find myself 10 to 15 feet behind him while walking down the street.

    I am 70 years old, overweight, and 5’2″. He is 36, slim, fit, and over 6′ tall. So of course, he has longer legs and a giant’s stride. He says our walk to the fitness center and back is part of our daily exercise. Therefore, he deliberately sets a brisk pace.

    I stretch my legs out as far as I can to lengthen my stride. Rather than walking, I end up jumping and hopping over the sidewalk to propel myself along faster. I wish I could fly. Every once in a while I run to get closer to him. This is no fun. I can’t find a way to keep up. He stops when he gets to the corner of a busy street. That’s when he scolds me about how important it is that I walk beside him as we cross.

    Ironically, walking with my son reminds me of learning to march during Basic Training in the army 50 years ago. I was the shortest woman in the platoon. I didn’t march. I ran to keep up. The tallest women at the front set the pace. They were over 6′ tall. The drill sgt. screamed at me a lot. I was fit, young, and slender. My legs were still short back then.

    I am new to the area. We live on a busy road without signals or stop signs. Traffic is chaotic. Motor bikes, cars, van, trucks, buses, Tuk Tuks, and bicycles move in unpredictable ways against the flow of traffic. I am terrified of crossing the streets alone. Vehicles block the sidewalks and are parked anywhere there is empty space. We must step into the street to get around the parked vehicles. It is impossible to use the sidewalks without dealing with obstacles.

    There are very high sidewalks. It is hard to step down into the street. The sidewalks are put together with all sorts of stones and various shapes of concrete. There are lots of holes and cracks that cause me to stumble. I have to watch where I place my feet as I walk.

    We have discussed the problem of being a fast or slow walker. I feel bad about the trouble this is causing in our relationship. I hate it when my son makes fun of me in front of other people about being a slow walker. I have listened to him joke and laugh out loud about it. At other times he speaks to me in anger and frustration about walking slowly.

    We have a trip planned. We leave in three weeks. I dread the long walks through the airports with him.

    I feel like I am being bullied. I am hurt by constant criticism. I don’t like being cooped up in the house.
    However, leaving the house with my son is an ordeal. I suggested that we stop walking together. We could hire a ride together or I could meet him at any destination. He accused me of being passive-aggressive and shutting down.

    Finally I decided to do a search on-line. I wanted to see if others are facing this problem. I am relieved to find this website.

    Thanks to all of you for sharing.