Dating Expert Says Men Shouldn't Have To Make This Controversial Choice

Why men really love sports so much.

Last updated on Apr 03, 2024

Woman and football game football wife, Dean Drobot | Canva 

Editor's Note: This is a part of YourTango's Opinion section where individual authors can provide varying perspectives for wide-ranging political, social, and personal commentary on issues.

I wanted to share a situation that recently almost tragically derailed my client's budding relationship. The problem was she didn't understand when her guy "seemingly" chose to watch a football game over coming to her house for dinner. Now before you dive headfirst into a quick decision about what that means, let me explain further. Here's the pitch: My client is from San Francisco and not long ago, her city's team was playing in the Major League Baseball World Series. The sport is not the issue; it's a man's connection to his team of choice. When your team advances to the cusp of a world championship, that's a pretty big deal. Some men (and women too) go their whole lives and never get a chance to host or attend a championship game in the spotlight.


To make a long story short, on game day, my client was planning a dinner at her home so she could get some clarity on "where their relationship was heading." (By the way, at that time, that was way too soon and just a bad idea anyway ... but I digress). At this point, I got an urgent email because her new guy had just "called an audible" and proposed that they get together and watch the big game in a local sports pub. My client is not a sports fan so she decided that he must "sense" there is going to be a conversation that might be uncomfortable so the whole game thing was a convenient ruse to avoid "the talk." I swear I'm not making this up; talk about a swing-and-a-miss. I had to interject quickly. Let’s do an instant replay so we can make the right call.


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What’s going on here? By imposing her feminine thought patterns onto her masculine date, she's not even in the same ballpark when it comes to correctly reading the situation. Men are not hairy women. Many of them navigate the world with logic and reason. By contrast, feminine energy is navigated by emotion. Plus my client is getting hung up on the fact that he knows she has a TV at her home so why go out to a pub? She couldn’t have been any more "off-base" if she tried so I had to help her understand some men's visceral connection with sports at a much deeper level. As Albert Einstein famously said, "You’ll never solve a problem with the level of thinking that caused it."

What’s up with men and sports? Women don’t always fully grasp the significance of some men's connection with sports because it is so closely aligned with their identities and worldviews. When it comes to a man’s identity, it's important to understand that "identity" is the strongest force in the human personality because people need to remain consistent with who they believe they are at the deepest level. A man’s worldview is closely aligned with the idea of competition and domination of sorts. When it comes to sports as a masculine outlet, there's a reason why men are drawn to great displays of strength ... incredible feats of agility ... or commanding displays of athletic prowess.

It's because there's a deeply rooted connection with how he'd like to see himself. He desires to step up to the metaphorical "plate" and be the hero by winning the game. It's in their appreciation for other real sports icons that they can embrace their desire to be seen as a hero. Make no mistake: inside the heart of every little boy lies the seed of a man who'd love to be seen as a hero or a champion —maybe even your champion. It's when you learn to see the hero in him that you’ll see it on display. Let’s take a time out and go even deeper.




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I’ve only begun to touch on the psychological benefits of a man's connection with sports ... but there's much more. Having your city or team compete in the big game offers "reflected glory" to anyone connected. In addition to the social relevance and civic pride, there’s also a "water cooler currency" that gets linked to anyone who "Monday morning quarterbacks" the game by dissecting it in depth, whether it was the questionable strategy by the coach or manager, the terrible calls by officials, or a star player’s performance in a clutch situation. By sharing his opinion or viewpoint, a man can not only demonstrate his insight, intelligence, and interest, but he can also express who he is and what he stands for ... which gets us back to that whole identity thing again.

Don’t even get me started on the obvious benefits of "bragging rights" which explains why everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon when the home team’s performing well. It goes back to that whole "success has many fathers but failure is an orphan" mindset. Hopefully, by now, you’re starting to get why so many men have such a visceral and compelling love of sports. It’s deeply rooted in the masculine psyche and a fundamental connector in male bonding and its rituals. Sports are simulated versions of battle and safer expressions of life and "sudden death."




How’s that for a powerful metaphor? By the way, there’s one more benefit I want to clarify: What if you just won the game? The great news is that I got to my client in time and stopped her from totally — and possibly fatally — sabotaging a relationship that continues to go very nicely still to this day. The truth is her guy had no idea she was planning one of those very ill-advised "we have to talk" conversations. He invited her to watch the game because he was symbolically welcoming her into his world.

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He also wanted to introduce her to his best friend on that same night. Not surprisingly, she saw that as another "evading" tactic when, in fact, it was a deepening and a further merger of their worlds with a woman he truly liked and respected. Plus this guy was a single dad and it was his only night out, which made it an even bigger deal. As I said, my client and her guy are still together and doing nicely. That’s because I helped her stop judging him for what was wrong and focus on what was right. I helped her realize that he could love his sports — and her.


I helped her stop trying to force some kind of false choice between her and his team. I helped her stop trying to change him and just love him for the man he is and enjoy their time together no matter what they’re doing. Listen, I’m not saying you need to like sports if you don’t but you should know this: If you can at least stop making him wrong and feeling like you’re the one who needs to compete with his team, you might just fall in love with the man and his team. And in return: he might just decide that you're the winner he wants on his team permanently. Now wasn’t that the win you were after in the first place?

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Dave Elliott is a relationship coach, human behavior specialist, and author of The Catch Your Match Formula. He has appeared in multiple media outlets and publications, including eHarmony, PopSugar, Latina, Psych Central, and Fox News, among many others.