Wednesday, November 9, 2011

football-obsessed boyfriend wants to skip my dad's birthday. Help.

Hi there—

I’m not engaged but we’re getting there so I hope this makes me eligible for your wise counsel. My boyfriend of 2.5 years—who I live with, mind you—is completely bananas for college football—especially at his alma mater which has had a few good years but is not a school known for athletics. I can’t really describe his level of obsession except to say that I don’t know anyone who likes anything as much as he likes his team. Most of the time I find this kind of sweet and endearing. Especially because he is sort of a nerd about it, rather than a jock about it—he loves the stats and discussing “schemes.” Plus, I happen to really like football and tailgates and hotdogs and all that so it works. 

But, my dad is turning 60 in a few weeks and my mom is planning a small dinner for just immediate family that, of course, happens to fall on the same day as the last home game of the season (we have season tickets). I’ve known this was coming for months and planted the seed ages ago but now that the reservation is made and we’re almost there I finally brought it up for realz and he is not happy. He hasn’t said whether he will go or not—in my opinion he has no choice—but I know he is bummed and slightly pissed and I can’t decide if he has any grounds for the pouting. 

In the past, I’ve given him an out for other minor family get-togethers that have conflicted with games and I was a good sport when we postponed my birthday dinner by a week because he was so upset about a loss he didn’t feel like going out. But I really feel like this is different. It’s my dad and my family has been very good to him. I know my parents—who are really lovely and not usually the type to judge—will raise an eyebrow and look down at this. 

So: am I wrong to take a stand or should I just let it go?



So, um, yeah. I have an answer to this. (BOY DO I EVER.) I have a feeling every other lady reading this will too.

But I thought it might be helpful to get a dude's perspective.

Here's what our very favorite dude-reader-of-ESB had to say:

Make a goal line stand on this, woman! Dad only has one 60th birthday while BF's team will have many more last games of the season. If he can't understand this he is being immature beyond measure. Also, it sounds like family is important to you and if you plan on spending more than 2.5 years with this guy he needs to understand that and show you your family is important to him too.

Best regards,
Rob S. Parham

-One Percent for Space-

p.s. esb, this guy sounds like an immature little boy that can't stay up late and watch his favorite tv show. Why would this even be a question if she ACTUALLY wants to marry this guy? Shit, I'm all weird about space and rocket launches but I'd never think about missing an important family event for one. I mean look at my damn signature. Dude needs to put on his bigboy pants.

Photo: Marie Claire Dutch, November 2011 via n &n


  1. As somebody with a college basketball obsessed huz, I second the dude reader's advice. Being a fan can't actually get in the way of LIFE, you know? That said, let me tell you right now that when you CAN schedule things so he can still see the games, it will make him very happy. For instance, we discussed getting married in March, and I axed that idea right away cause I didn't want him frantically checking scores on his phone during our damn wedding. Getting hitched in September made it a non-issue.

    I'm more concerned about the thing you said about your birthday, about him "not feeling like going out" for a week. That sounds a LOT like the fandom is getting in the way of life, and like something that could be a long-term problem in your marriage. Sometime, maybe in the off season, you might want to have a conversation with him about priorities, and about what all that energy gets him. As my huz says, the team can't love him back.

  2. "I was a good sport when we postponed my birthday dinner by a week because he was so upset about a loss he didn’t feel like going out."

    I'm sorry, but WHAT? He damn well better get over a college football game and take you out to dinner. And celebrate your dad's 60th birthday. He needs a slap of reality.

  3. Yeaahhhhhhh that is not cool. Does he really have to be told what the priorities are? He'll be really bummed, which is understandable. But I'm not sure too-bummed-to-go-out-for-your-bday is reasonable, nor is not being able to tell that dad's 60th takes precedent. I also really hope when he goes to your dad's 60th dinner he's not so pouty that its noticeable and he ruins the evening. Take a stand, girl.

  4. I'm sorry but everyone deserves better than this. If he won't wake up and smell the coffee here then he isn't husband material, he's ex-boyfriend material.

  5. Look, there ain't no bigger football fans than my husband and me. We're obsessed. But we always, always, always put *real* people in our lives first. It's not even a contest! When a party or a get-together is planned for game-day, we briefly morn the fact that we won't be able to watch it, and then we move on and cherish the time we get to spend with our friends/family. Dude needs to figure it out!! You're being way too understanding here.

  6. He was too upset about his team to celebrate your birthday?! If there's one day a year he should try to put you first, it's your freaking birthday!

    I don't care how much he loves his team--his first priority should be YOU (and therefore, your dad's birthday). It's great that you're supportive of his love of football, but you're cutting him too much slack. Like Anon6:14 said, if he keeps acting like a four-year-old, he's not husband material.

  7. Rob is sooooo on. I bet your boy has a ton of endearing qualities, truly, and is super awesome in tons of ways. But absolutely, ditto the above girls -- even if, say, birthdays aren't a big deal to you, um IT'S YOUR SPECIAL DAY. THAT COMES ONCE A YEAR. Red flag. I like that it's your concern about the boy's lack of concern for your family (shows you're incredibly considerate of others + loving), but you are totally worthy of that level of love + consideration too.

  8. PS: and I'm from Texas, where people seriously schedule weddings around home football games. Just saying, I get football fandom. But really.

  9. Ha ha...I was going to bring up the "so upset about a loss he didn’t feel like going out" for your birthday part too, and then saw that that is what everyone is focusing on. That just seems really selfish, and yeah, childish.

  10. We're HUGE college football fans, as well, so I understand the dilemma. This season, we missed one of the biggest home games (Arkansas vs. former nat'l champs Auburn) for our friends' wedding. We had tickets / excellent seats / the whole thing, but there really wasn't any hesitation - of course we were going to the wedding! Friends and family come first. (That being said: We did high-tail it out of the reception so we could catch the 4th quarter on TV. Woo Pig Sooie!)

    Record the game on your DVR, and watch it together when you get home from your dad's birthday dinner. (Unless, of course, his team doesn't get national TV coverage, in which case he will have to suck-it-up and miss it entirely. Sorry, bro. It's what you do for the woman you LOVE.)

    P.S. Let's NOT take it so far as to label this guy "not husband material" - whatever THAT means! sounds like something from Bridget Jones' Diary?! - because of his super fandom. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that if Our Girl can have a real talk with him about how important it is for him to be there and how he is part of the family, and this is a family thing, then he'll DO THE RIGHT THING. Sounds like she's kinda afraid to communicate (to him) how much this means to her (same goes for the birthday dinner thing! If it was important to you, stand up and SAY SO). Always communicate how you really feel! Or else you'll harbor resentment (see: the birthday dinner thing). Don't give him an "out" if you truly want him to participate. Also: no guilt trips. Guys f*cking hate that sh*t. I know.

  11. I seriously cannot believe that he would not go out for your BIRTHDAY for a WEEK.

    Barring major life catastrophes, nothing should put you so down in the dumps that you can't rally for your favorite person's bday. For a WEEK.

    Sorry, but my head is still spinning.

  12. first of all, I love how much Rob loves space.

    football widow - tell your guy he's being ridiculous. if he refuses to go to dinner because he doesn't want to miss a football game, that'll send a pretty craptacular message to your fam. if he's okay with sending that message, that's a problem.

  13. go, rob, go!

    and i find it utterly ridiculous that someone would choose a silly sporting event over something important to his/her family. even my husband is a crazy duke basketball fan and would never pull a stunt like that. i say try talking to him. pouting is totally unacceptable.

  14. ummm, your birthday...celebrated a week later because he was upset over a lose?! that should have been a red light right there, dear.

    like other ladies here, my husband and i LOVELOVELOVE football and we happen to be in a different city for our anniversary a month ago where our team was the away team and what did the dude say when i asked (because he knew this too and it was bound to come up) if he wanted to go (it was on our actual anniversary date): "hell no! why the hell would i want spend our anniversary at a loud ass place where i can't even enjoy your company?" and just like that, he reminded me for the 80231804939th time why i married him.

    like rob said, get him some big boy pants. football < people, EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

  15. also,'s carl sagan's birthday. tell esb that she needs a carl sagan appreciation post! and if she HAS to make it about marriage, link her to this story, which makes me smile big everytime i read it:

    my husband and i like carl sagan so much, we put a quote of his on our posters guests signed at our wedding. THIS IS WHAT I GET FOR MARRYING THE SON OF A ROCKET SCIENTIST!

  16. Huge college football fan here, too. But I don't have season tickets, so I record the games and go on with life.

    Clearly he needs to go to Dad's birthday. But, ever so slightly in his defense, your "planted the seed...I finally brought it up for realz" line makes me feel like you kind of told him but also didn't straight-up tell him and hoped it'd work out well in the end. Next time something similar comes up, weeks before hand he needs a direct, "Hey, remember we have thatthing and you need to post those tickets on Stub Hub." Not bossy, just informative.

    Like everyone already said, your birthday delay is horrifying. Actually more so than this 60th issue, I think.

  17. 1. you need to man up and tell him exactly what you think (ie that he should come to the birthday)

    2. he needs to man up and go to the birthday

    3. if he refuses, that's a pretty BIG SIGN

  18. Your bf seems to be very selfish. I am not a huge sports fan, so maybe I just don't get it. But seriously, come on! He was upset for a week?! It's as if he lost a beloved family pet or something, and even then he should WANT to go out and CELEBRATE with you for YOUR BDAY. A part of me wonders if he just uses his love of the game to avoid interacting with you and your family. From my own experience of my ex never wanting to hang out with my family or friends and being lame on my bday, it was because he was over the relationship, he didn't want the commitment or having to answer to anyone but himself. Maybe it's time you had a heart to heart with him and bring up the issues. It seems like you may have let this whole thing stew for too long, and it will be harder for him to change now that you have accommodated him. I hope you work it out and he is able to make compromises, if he can't then maybe it's time to move on, or face the fact that your guy isn't the one for you.

  19. THANK YOU, ROB. Again, why you're my favorite.

    A HUGE red flag in my book is that she had to POSTPONE HER BIRTHDAY DINNER FOR A WEEK because the team lost and he was "too upset to go out." THAT'S INSANE. This isn't some "adorable" team love - this is an obsession, and it is not ok.

    Draw that line. If he's this fixated now, it'll only get worse down the road, and who wants to be in a relationship where you have to drag your husband away from the TV so that the kids can have their father at their birthday party?

  20. What Rob said. And please ask him to not constantly check scores on his phone under the table during the dinner. It's not the end of the world if he misses a game. Really. Even my husband understands that, and he's a college football fanatic as well (we're from Texas, so I know well the football obsession). And next year? Regardless of the game outcome? He's not making you put off celebrating your birthday. That is ridiculous. And insanely nice of you to deal with (whooo boy that would've been a big "you're going to have to just suck it up" conversation at our house).

  21. "we postponed my birthday dinner by a week because he was so upset about a loss he didn’t feel like going out"

    DUDE. i dont even know what to say. guess you cant (eventually) get married in football season either!

  22. Can't you DVR it? That's what I do.

  23. He sounds like a dick. My fiance is in 3 hockey pools (plays on 2 teams), 2 football pools, 2 baseball pools and has seasons tickets to the local baseball team. We have never missed any kind of event for a game. Yes, on Sundays it is a struggle to convince him to get off the couch and step away from the beer, but he has been known to do laundry between quarters. :) (be jealous)

  24. Interesting to note that he hasn't refused to go or put up any kind of real fight yet we're all on here telling her to dump this guy STAT. At this point, all he's really done is pout and, seriously, who on here has never dated a guy who has pouted about a family obligation? That's not to say I am taking his side--just something to think about.

    Dearheart--assumimg that this guy has many good and endearing qualities and that, despite this seasonal jackassery, he loves you shows it, I think you really just need to be a bit more forthcoming in your opinions. It sounds like you're a bit too accomodating and, not to blame the victim, that you've set the precedent for allowing this behavior. I think you need to sit him down and lay down the law. Tell him that in the past, in your efforts to be a good sport, you've not been true to what you really want and that going forward you plan to be more honest about the things that are important to you. And then tell him that the party is on x date at x time and leave it at that.

  25. This is why I'm so happy I married a nerd.

    Tell the dude it would be a slap in the face to you and your family to miss your dad's milestone birthday because it conflicts with the last home game of the season(???!!!). Period. Rob is right, there will be another last home game next year and for many years after. He can suck it up. And honestly, if he does pout about it or resent you for it I would definitely be wondering if this is the guy for me.

    Another thing to consider about the birthday thing: if the team had won instead, and you did go out to dinner would you be celebrating your birthday or the mother effing game?

  26. OK, first off, the weeklong depression about a loss is just silly. He shouldn't make you reschedule your birthday dinner.

    However, my husband and I are HUGE college football fans. We have season tickets and party with our friends at every game. We have both missed games in the recent past for weddings and grad school commitments.

    But the last homegame of the season is usually the rivalry game. It would be a big decision to go to a small dinner versus going to the rivalry game. Luckily, my FIL is also a huge fan of our team and would never dream of missing the game. So I understand why he's pouty. My hubby would be pouty too. I would also be pouty.

  27. My sister graduated the same weekend as my fiance's favorite city holiday. Many of our friends from across the country came into our city for this holiday, and we missed it to listen to graduation speeches and hang out with my parents in a podunk no fun college.

    There are always going to obligations, football or otherwise, and the mark of healthy communication is your ability to share what is important to you, and what you need from your partner. You need him to attend this bday dinner. I needed my fiance to attend my sis's graduation bc it validated him as a new part of my family, and just as integral as if she were his own sister. You need to be honest with him, acknowledge that this sucks, then ask him to attend. No checking scores (hello dvr), no making you overcompensate or feel bad because he's missing it. You in turn thank him and take into consideration that he is doing this FOR YOU. It's not about who's commitment is "better"

  28. DUDE. Okay, I have no particular ill-will towards superfans of any flavour, but you need to have a conversation with your fancy gent.

    "My darling, I love that you love football, but it's starting to affect our relationship. I am going to go to my father's birthday party, and I expect you to come with me, smiling and full of good cheer. In the future, if there are no major life events like birthdays or celebrations on that day, you are fully blessed to go ahead and watch. But when game day and life days intersect, I expect you to attend to our life and leave the game behind for a few hours."

  29. what i want to know is, who has SEX with this almost-fiance of yours... you or his beloved football team? that, right there, should be his deciding factor.

  30. Wasn't there a Colin Firth movie about this? Or was it Jimmy Fallon?

    (Or maybe I'm the only person who's seen both Fever Pitch movies.)

  31. Sorry no advice here, just can't stop drooling over that jacket/shrug/stole thingy in the picture. Totes gorge!

  32. Season Ticket Holders of GB Packers Tix - Hubby is a huge fan - we gave up going to a game for our nephew's birthday.

    Family Events come before entertainment. Watching Football is entertainment. Anyone who blurs this line needs a serious "values" conversation.

    And honestly, I am a little taken aback that he didn't take you out for your birthday because he was upset about a loss... Come on now??? That doesn't sound like a guy anywhere close to being ready for marriage.

  33. @missingabutton I've seen both Fever Pitch films. Have to say I much preferred the remake with Jimmy Fallon (might be because it's the red sox....) !

  34. Will you also have to schedule the birth of your babies around his football games? ... or will he pout like a 2-year-old about that, too and blame you?

    This guy needs a life ... and you need to stop enabling such sophomoric behavior. Think 5, 10, 20 years down the road on this ... it may be okay now, but week in and week out forever?

    The performance of his team affects him so intensely that he can't take you to dinner?? Are you kidding me? What a big baby.

  35. gag, football. Your birthday thing is blowing my mind. Honestly the obsession would be a dealbreaker for me. Find him a therapist.

    And also, right on, Celia.

  36. @Anon 10:49 PM Can we be best friends? :) GO PACK!

  37. Dump him. He sucks.

  38. Whoa whoa whoa. Let's not go name calling yet.

    Do you live in the South? Football is a religion here. If it were me we would ditch my dad's bday for the Clemson vs. Carolina game. Or his mom's birthday. If you start ditching my birthday over the loss of the team you have another thing coming. I am not okay with that. (Although my now husband thoroughly fucked up my birthday when we were dating and he is actually amazing. Worse things could happen.)

    The deciding factor in the "husband material" debate is how excited you are about football. You love it, he loves it, it works. If you aren't excited about football and this is going to ruin your family functions, social calendar and potential wedding than yeah maybe you don't need to marry him.

    As far as your dad's bday goes... maybe you should have provided more notice, maybe he is being inconsiderate. There is a lot that can be read into the situation. I hope it goes well, and for your sake I hope his team wins!