The Ole Mountain Town Threesome

How to navigate me-centered skiers and avoid female dude-bros, according to Sweet Jane

Illustration by Andy Rementer

My boyfriend’s previous relationship is really starting to interfere with the life we’re trying to build together. I know she was his first love, but I’m here now and I’m literally taking the backseat to his dog. How do I tell him I’m the girl in his life now and I need a little more attention? I’m only human.
Phoebe, Stowe

Ah, yes. The ole mountain town threesome, where the creature sleeping between you in bed at night isn’t a stray you found lost and panting at a bar together, but some bitch he picked up on the road somewhere during those freewheeling days before you came along.

The bond your man shares with his 115-pound Husky/Lab/mutt is like no other pre-you relationship you will ever deal with. She’s marked her territory well—her fur lurks in every crevice of his gear, truck, and domicile. Unlike your affection, hers is unconditional. The dog never yells about forgotten dinner plans and lifted toilet seats, and she likely knows his favorite backcountry lines better than you do.

Sadly, babe, men don’t just ditch their furry soul mates when some cute girl who skis big couloirs drops into their lives. You’ve got three choices: 1. Learn to love the dog. 2. Learn to love being single again. Or 3. Just kidding. There is no third choice. But if the dog’s name is Kaya, Patagonia, Ullr, or Marley, I strongly encourage you to consider option two.

I’ve spent most of my life in ski towns and have a vast knowledge of how stuff goes down, despite being only 23. One thing I haven’t been able to figure out is the girls. I understand everyone is different, but I’m curious as to why most girls are just looking to bang.
Zack, Breckenridge

Welcome to the age of true gender equality, Zack. The reason most 20-something girls just want to bang is the exact same reason most 20-something boys do. People who move to ski towns are mostly me-centered, not we-centered. You want to party, you want to play, and you are not yet far enough away from the years of your life when other people controlled your choices to be remotely interested in having some new person step in with an opinion on how and where and with whom you spend your time.

They obsessively fixate on whatever adventure-sports micro-niche they’ve chosen to try to excel at and are only interested in people who fit inside the narrow parameters of the box they’re in. (You like pre-dawn climbing sketchy pitches with crampons to ski down rappel-entry glacial-ice faces of variable-to-crap quality before work? No way, me too! Let’s run a long-distance multi-mountain marathon together this summer!) The number of interests that have to align for two inherently selfish people to couple down without feeling like they’re giving up their precious activity is intense. You have better odds winning the lottery than finding a true match in a mountain town.

Given that, it’s just easier to casually throw a buck down for a Powerball ticket knowing you’re not going to hit the numbers, but you just stopped in for gas anyway, so who cares? Sometimes it’s just fun to play. Nah’mean?

How does one find rad lady friends to ski with? I only ever seem to meet dude-bro skiers.
Lacey, Reno

This is a difficult question made harder because your pool of potential companions is located in the dude-bro epicenter that is Tahoe, and is further complicated by the fact that dude-broitis is not a gender-specific affliction.

Just because she’s a lady doesn’t mean she’s rad. A female dude-bro is the sand you inhale in the desert when you’re dying of thirst and deliriously think you’ve stumbled across a lake of clear, fresh water. She is the worst kind of disappointment. When the rad lady you’ve connected with off-piste has a completely different and incompatible idea of what’s fun to ski, a vague sadness tends to set in.

More advice on life and love from a girl in a ski town here.

The trick is to be patient and pay attention. We are all creatures of habit and tend to gravitate toward parts of the mountain that fit our style of shred best. If you look hard enough you’ll start to notice that your path intersects with one or more women on a regular basis.

Once identified, you’ll see them everywhere. Try eye contact and smiling first. If that goes well, conspire to end up on a chairlift together. If she’s truly rad, she’ll be looking for another female to ski with just like you are, and one good conversation should be all it takes to make a connection. And if she isn’t? Just keep looking. Or move to the PNW where rad ladies outnumber trees.

This sound advice originally appeared in the September 2016 (45.1) issue of POWDER. Have something you want to ask Sweet Jane? Hit her up at powder@powder.com, subject: Sweet Jane.