Multiple times a week, my boyfriend cheats on me with a no-fucks-giving home wrecker who goes simply by the name of "sports."
But, of course, this is also why I love him.
When Graig and I first met, it was the second week of the NFL season, and football provided us with an immediate connection. He was impressed with my stacked fantasy roster; I was impressed that he was a Giants fan who wasn't entirely insufferable. (Go Brady.)
We proceeded to spend the entire season together, at bars and in stadiums. It felt great to be in a relationship based on such a prominent shared interest, and, if I'm being honest, his passion for the sport was a turn-on.
But then, the ultimate irony: What started as the most attractive trait turned into the biggest turn-off.
The undeniable sports appeal: Perhaps our attraction to sports fans is rooted in the teen movies of our youth, in which "jock" was synonymous with "hot." Or does it have something to do with glorifying masculine ideals, as several studies have suggested? Is it connected to the proven attraction to people who play sports?
"I don't actually like sports," Laura*, a 27-year-old single woman told Mic. "But I want a man who does. What's not hot about raw male athleticism?"
"It represents the ultimate in manliness for a lot of gay men," Luke*, a 26-year-old gay man added, noting that for those in the gay community, the word "sports" alone is loaded with "masc/fem" baggage. "It's very old world, very gender binary."
I also found Graig's sports interest incredibly appealing. But while I'm in a monogamous sports-relationship with the New England Patriots, I soon learned that Graig is a polyamorous fan of literally every sport under the sun. He watches college basketball, the NBA, early season baseball games that don't matter, soccer (what does FIFA even stand for?), hockey, golf.
The irony of the sports takeover: A 2005 Gallup poll reported that 3 in 4 men identify as sports fans. For plenty of those fans, the relationship is akin to a real relationship, one that can even trump sexual interest. (This writer was once at a bachelor party during a football game where a stripper shoved her chest in the sports-loving groom's face. He looked right past her and kept screaming at the TV.)
That love of sports can often edge an actual partner out.
"During football season, he does fantasy and is always checking scores. On Sundays I get abandoned," Shania*, a 30-year-old woman, told Mic of her sports-obsessed fiancé. "Baseball season he does fantasy as well and is on his phone 24/7. He also loves hockey, and if the Rangers make it to playoffs, our whole schedule revolves around their games."
It's no surprise, then, that a survey of over 1,400 people by the professional matchmaking service It's Just Lunch earlier this year found that sports nuts pair best with fellow sports nuts. Forty-one percent of 25- to 34-year olds reported that they'd "rejoice" to learn their partner wanted to spend an entire weekend watching football, since that's how they'd be spending it anyway.
"My boyfriend is a baseball addict, and baseball is the longest season of the year," Tina,* an NFL cheerleader, told Mic. "I hate baseball."
She added, though, that it is a two-way street. "I love football, and I cheer for football. Any boy who can't spend a Sunday watching at least one game can't hang with me."
That's the thing: Such passionate obsessions seem entirely irrational... unless they're ours. But that's OK; in fact, when taken advantage of properly, a partner's unrelenting sports addiction can be turned into a free pass for you to develop a passion of your own.
"Competing with professional athletes is exhausting," a 31-year-old who's married to a sports fanatic joked to me when I asked about her husband's sports obsession. "Find a hobby that can fill the void during games, like erotic novels. They'll help maintain sanity."
BRB, tabbing over to some NSFW Amazon.
* Names have been changed to allow individuals to speak freely on private matters.