The Washington Post

Does ‘NFL’ have to mean ‘not for long’ in this relationship?


Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I’m in love with a wonderful guy and thinking long-term with him. But, he is an EXTREME football fanatic and I’m not interested, despite efforts by both of us to get me excited about the game.

I feel as if the current football season has really put a strain on our relationship, sapping all the time we would normally spend together. I’m also still nursing wounds because he got offered last-minute tickets to a playoff game and canceled plans we had made months earlier in order to go.

I am very, very self-conscious about coming across as a nag or a shrew. I generally try to be as understanding as possible about it; he actually gave me the chance to veto his trip to the playoffs, and I told him he should go.

Sometimes I join him to watch the game; sometimes I make plans with girlfriends or stay home instead. Either way, I feel like I am making a sacrifice for the sport.

The idea of feeling this way for several months every year is the ONLY thing that gives me pause about this guy. Put in those terms, do you think this is major enough to spell incompatibility, or not that big a deal?

Me vs. Football

If you’re ready to accept a life of never making ambitious plans on a Sunday afternoon from mid-August to early February (the evening games you can work around, right?), then you can have a really happy life with a rabid football fan.

If you like that he has a passion even if you don’t share it, then you can have a really happy life with a rabid football fan.

If you can respect his choice of passion, instead of speculating (openly or internally) what’s so darn special about men in tights jumping into piles, then you can have a happy life with a rabid football fan.

But if the only way you can see his football habit is as an obstacle to the life you’d rather have, then do both of you a favor and rethink this guy as a viable long-term prospect. Relationships are complicated, but happiness in a relationship isn’t: It’s just wanting exactly what you have. Wanting something else is dispiriting.

Re: Football Fan:

It could be worse — he could be a baseball nut and have a 7-day-a-week, 6-month-long obsession. Football’s one day a week. You can get through it. Just know when the playoffs are and make any plans for January knowing you might cancel. It isn’t about you or his feelings about you or a referendum on your relationship. It’s part of who he is, part of who you love.

And like most things, if your relationship progresses, it will fade with time and be woven into the fabric of who you are together.


Well, it’s three days a week for NFL, more if he also follows NCAA — and the “fade with time,” I don’t know. Maybe as a point of friction it will, but his passion for it could endure or even grow.

But these are quibbles. “It isn’t about you or his feelings about you or a referendum on your relationship” gets sustained applause, and your main point is implied, and excellent: Expect it and weave it in.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at



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