Does Dating Someone Who Doesn’t Share Your Love for Game Day Warrant a Breakup?
Stating that autumn is one of the most wonderful times of the year is hardly a controversial opinion. From the changing colors of the leaves and all things pumpkin spice to costume parties around every turn, it’s easy to see why people love when the calendar flips to September and October. Here in the U.S., of course, we have another time-honored tradition that makes the fall season that much more special: football.
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Saturdays and Sundays in the fall are practically holy days in American households across the nation — and no, not the get-down-on-your-knees-and-pray kind of holy. By one count, 73 percent of men and 55 percent of women watch NFL games on television, while millions more attend the contests in person every season.
That means roughly two out of every three Americans tune in to the NFL each weekend. Those numbers mean that if you’re a guy interested in finding a football-loving partner, you have pretty solid odds. But what happens if you don’t? What happens if you meet your significant other during the offseason, but when it comes time for kickoff, they refuse to sit down and watch a game with you?
If the two of you have other things in common, there are ways to stay happy without every weekend inevitably leading to a standoff over how to spend your time.
First off, if you’re with someone who doesn’t like sports, just know there is a zero percent chance you’ll be able to watch every single game you want — unless your plan involves becoming single again, that is. If your desire is to press onward with this individual, that’s a fact you simply have to accept.
Second, there is no magic wand you can wave to make your significant other care as much about football as you do. If they haven’t grown to appreciate the sport by now, it’s unlikely that your repeated attempts to sit them down in front of the television on Sundays are going to uproot their deeply entrenched beliefs that the game is either boring, pointless or just too aggressive for their liking.
The road to bettering your relationship, or at least making sure it doesn’t go off the rails, during those precious four to five months that football graces the television starts with one word: moderation. While you may want to watch 20-plus hours of football on the weekend, doing so will result in no favors where your partner is concerned. In fact, that behavior is more likely to result in you spending the night cold and alone on the couch.
“The assumption today is that you will watch any football possible,” wrote “The Wall Street Journal” columnist Jason Gay in a thinkpiece published a few years ago. “Not only will you watch it, you need to watch it, because it is the highlight of your weekend and the fiber of your being, as essential to your happiness as sunlight and chicken fingers and maybe actually more than the sunlight. Your attention is not so much courted as it is expected.”
In reality, we know the world won’t end if we miss some of the big game to spend a bit of time with our significant other. Relationships always call for a little bit of sacrifice, and getting away from the television for a while is a healthy habit to get into. Plus, they created sports highlights for a reason, you know?
The second thing to focus on is gratitude. Maybe it sounds a little weird to say “thank you” to your partner for putting up with your football addiction, but if they’re sitting down to watch a game with you when it pains them to do so, you have to realize that they’re making a small sacrifice for you. Buckling in for a three-hour affair that they absolutely abhor is likely not the way they prefer to spend their time, so simply acknowledging their willingness to do will you do some good.
As for the way to truly seal the deal, ensuring football season doesn’t leave your relationship in shambles? Be extra conscientious of the things you’re doing with your partner while the game isn’t on. That’s when you need to be paying attention to your partner as much as you can — partly to show them that no, sports aren’t the only thing you care about, and partly to store up some brownie points when kickoff comes back around.
Take your significant other out for a midweek date, cook dinner together one night or watch a show or movie they enjoy. The more your partner feels valued and connected to you throughout the week, the better chance they’ll be more accepting of your football fanaticism on the weekend … even if they still have trouble getting into the game themselves.
Speaking of getting into the game, there are a couple things you can do to get your disinterested partner more involved on game day. Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman, says getting them in the mix during football season just takes a little bit of planning.
“If you’d really like for your significant other to be a part of the experience, you can incentivize them,”says Edwards. “For example, if you’re a guy who likes to watch sports with the boys, have your boys invite their girlfriends and that’ll make yours more excited to join you.”
Basically, you should make game day more of a social event. For some, that means the actual game is the main event, while for others, the excitement comes more from spending time with friends or loved ones, sharing a smorgasbord of game day treats with one another, and basking in the party-esque vibes of the day.
If you just can’t seem to get your partner on board whatsoever, or if it seems that your viewing preferences will never exactly align, Edwards notes that’s no reason to cause concern in regards to the future of your relationship.
“Your viewing preferences are no different than your hobbies or interests,” he says. “Sometimes, they are different from your partner’s, and that’s okay — especially when individualism and ‘me time’ in a relationship are needed.”
For this same reason, Edwards also thinks we don’t necessarily need to seek out partners that are as wild about football or other sports as we are.
“If you really want to have a partner who’s as obsessed as you, awesome,” he says. “If you’d rather keep your fanaticism to yourself and have your partner be wild about ‘Jane the Virgin,’ that’s fine, too.”
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