Are You Too Competitive With Your Guy?

Love, Self

Relationships are the ultimate experiment in teamwork. Ideally, a loving relationship is a lifetime contract filled with championship seasons and jewelry that screams happiness. But even the best teams struggle to find harmony—think Shaq and Kobe, George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson, Steinbrenner and Billy Martin (who was hired and fired five times), Steinbrenner and Joe Torre. Now think about "us."

Every team—good or bad—gets an off-season, a few months to heal, reflect on wins and losses, make adjustments. For professional athletes that means stepping away from the arenas, toward big-game fishing, rounds of golf, high-priced hookers, and maybe a trial.

For those of us who slog through work, bills, and household chores together, it's the opposite: Sport is our refuge. It's a chance to get away from our co-captain and become one with our base, instinctual, competitive selves.

For centuries, sport was the all-male Utopia, a gridiron Garden of Eden, a hardwood haven. But today, the Sportress of Solitude is a co-ed locker room. Does this mean that sports should be shared within a loving relationship? Sure. Does it mean that sports should be played between parties in a loving relationship? Hell, no.

When the buzzer goes off, your place in the pecking order is revealed. Why create a dynamic of inferiority and superiority in a relationship, which already has so many blind corners and pitfalls?

"But we play for fun. We don't care who wins!" may be your 21st-century superego's shell game. But listen carefully, and you'll hear your primordial id snarling "Bullshit!"

For men, basement ping-pong is a blood sport designed to establish dominance. And so it should be. It's competition. Introducing your lover into the equation contaminates the true essence of sport, and contaminates your relationship.

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