IN person, Gretchen Ho's demeanor isn’t far from what you see on the tube when she’s competing on the volleyball court. The 23-year-old ex-Atenean star spiker walks in and settles down in our studio with the same sense of focus she brings to every game. And the energy she exudes gives you the impression that she has come prepared for the task at hand — even if it’s as mechanically mundane as performing simulated spikes for the camera.
Unsurprisingly, Ho’s sheer power slams the volleyball to the ground, producing a thunderous echo that resounds in every corner of the room. It doesn’t take much to get her into the zone.
But while her confidence is initially intimidating, her boyish charms and disarming smile draw you in and make you realize she isn’t like most women you know. Growing up with three brothers has made her one of the boys, and she admits being raised in that sort of environment has molded the gung-ho, multidimensional achiever in her. “[So back in school], I was really concerned about competing with my batch mates more than anything — in sports [and] academics,” Ho recalls.
A self-confessed late bloomer, the Petron squad standout in the Philippine Super Liga women’s volleyball invitational was nonchalant when it came to guys befriending her in her teen years; staying committed to her beloved sport was her top priority. It was only in her final year in college when she really gave dating a go. The long wait paid off — since then, she’s been dating actor-host Robi Domingo, and they’ve gone public about it since.
There may be a lot of things vying for Ho’s attention nowadays (she’s also one of the hosts of Gameday Weekend, which airs on Balls Channel every Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 PM), but her focus never wavers. She remains driven to succeed — in sports, in her hosting career, and also in her relationship. And now that she’s officially off the market, the beaming volleybelle is serving you with her version of dating dos and don’ts that she has learned from experience.
Like most women, Ho dislikes a man who comes off as needy. She not only believes that clinginess shows a lack of self-value — she also feels that two people in a relationship need time away from each other in order to flourish. “I need space to grow [as a person]. After you’ve given me that space, let’s meet and let’s share what we have and help each other grow,” she explains.
Still, Ho doesn’t discount the importance of spending quality time together, especially since she and her boyfriend have hectic schedules. “Mahirap pag busy, pero sometimes, nakakatulong din yung effort [to be with each other],” she says. “Kung gusto mo kasi talaga yung tao, gagawa ka ng paraan kahit busy ka.” While you don’t have to check on your girlfriend all the time, you also have to show her you remember her, or else you’ll come off either as an insecure boy or a player.
There’s nothing like exercising good ol’ proper manners to stand out, and women are quick to pick up on this even at the very first meeting. “First of all, I notice if a guy is a gentleman — if he closes the door [for me] and treats me well,” Ho shares.
As your relationship comes along, your sense of respect for each other should never dissipate. For Ho, when a guy is consistently courteous not only to his family and close friends but also to people not directly related to him, it speaks volumes about his sincerity in the relationship. If you treat acquaintances and even strangers with decency and courtesy, she sees it as a sign that you’re bound to be more careful with the feelings of the ones you care about.
No Guts, No Glory
As with anything in life, keep in mind that dating is also a gamble. Ho can attest that the chances of getting rejected or hurt will always be there. Still, something positive usually comes out of taking the plunge.
“Take a risk, because [otherwise] you’ll never know if the person will turn out to be good for you,” she encourages. “We may have our ideal partners in mind, but the beauty of a relationship is discovering the reality of the person in front of you, seeing the good and the bad, and allowing them to be complemented by your imperfections.”
Ready for Action
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General reported that red hues tend to make men appear more attractive to women. Of course, shifting her attention from your cherry-red polo to your vibrant personality is all up to how you handle the night’s proceedings.
Break the Wall
Getting acquainted with each other's rules of intimacy takes time says sex and relationship counselor, Tracey Cox, author of Sextasy.“But [eventually], you think you’re supposed to know what you’re doing – and most men are afraid of looking stupid.” Talking about your fantasies won’t hurt.
BE ON HER TEAM
Don’t be too quick to judge jocks based on stereotypes. Volleyball star and TV host Gretchen Ho shares the many merits of dating an athlete
1. They stay in sync. You can expect athletes to apply the practices they’ve learned from their sport into the different aspects of their life, including romance. This is why she thinks having an athlete for a partner can be advantageous: The importance of teamwork and determination (two crucial relationship pillars) have been instilled in them early on. “Sports-minded people are driven, and they know how to work with [other] people,” she says.
2. They get up and do. They’re not just driven to succeed — most athletes welcome any challenge and are “game for anything,” as Ho puts it. So if you’re the adventurous type, having an athlete for a companion will make the experiences a lot more free-flowing. Whether it’s trying out kite surfing, eating exotic food, or visiting undiscovered destinations, you can count on a sportswoman to never back down from anything.
3. You can stay healthy together. Dating an athlete ups your standards when it comes to eating right and working out. “We care about our physical well-being, so attracted ako if [a guy also] takes care of his body,” admits Ho. Dating an athlete will also give you more incentive to cut down on vices and stay on the health and fitness track.