My mother always asked me what I would do if I fell in love with someone who was not interested in football. I always waved her off, “pfft, it’s not possible”, yet here we are 10 years later and I’ve been happily coupled up with my non-football-fan for three years now. It’s funny how that works sometimes, as I’m sure I was not the only football-mad teenager who saw myself in a relationship looking a bit like this, having worshipped the likes of Bend It Like Beckham (watched on the plane the other week and cried like a baby, it’s still such a good movie) and She’s The Man. Unfortunately, all the examples used are picturing heterosexual romantic relationships which is far from actual reality, but that’s what was available in the 2000s.
There are both positives and negatives when it comes to the partner (or another close person in your life, like a best friend) not sharing your biggest passion and, for some of us, work. In the list below you can find a wee potpourri of different advice that can be good to keep close on days when you feel misunderstood or things are getting messed up and you’re frustrated – “uuugh, they should’ve known not to book XYZ for the same night as that important game.” We’ve all been there, and sometimes it can be hard to remember that not everyone’s world revolves around game days, silly season and everything in between that you choose to include in your football fandom.
- Look at it from the bright side: you are relieved of any bickering with your significant other about which team is the best, instead, you can just force your team upon them.
- Take charge of all holiday booking from now on. Otherwise, you might end up with catastrophes like your other half having booked your flight to Barcelona on the NIGHT OF THE MEN’S WORLD CUP FINAL.
- In fact, this gives you another upper hand, as you can sneakily suggest vacation places that coincide with a big game/stadium you want to visit …
- To make life easier, you should keep a shared calendar, or print out a match schedule that will cover all of the must-see games for the next few months. That way they can’t book in dinners/pub rounds/trips if they haven’t consulted the schedule – and if they still do, it is actually their fault.
- Communication is key, a cornerstone in any relationship but still worth mentioning, as sometimes it’s easy to forget about something as simple as putting words to your feelings. Let them in on what your feeling after that player transferred to the rival club or your team suffered a really terrible loss. Your person has passions too and can understand what it feels like to really care about something. Which leads us onto the next point …
- Find their football-equivalent. For example, my partner plays the guitar and performs occasionally, and guess who’s always on the first row? Just because there’s a whole culture around football, and it tends to take up a lot of space/interest, doesn’t mean that people cannot be equally passionate about other things. This is important to remember, and if you want your partner to occasionally engage with/understand your football fandom, you need to show them the same courtesy regarding what they’re really into.
- It’s easier to engage people during the World Cups, Euros and Copa America, simply because a lot more people find it more tangible to relate to a country rather than a club.
- Write a little guideline book that summarises things such as rules, a short history of the game, which team to cheer for (yours, obviously) as a way to invite them in. In many cases the people who claim that they “don’t get it” are not really disinterested, it’s just that they have never been allowed a “safe” entryway into the game (for example an environment where they feel safe to ask questions without fear of being ridiculed #ReleaseYourInnerBadFootballFan)
- Remember – it’s all about balance. It can actually be very healthy to be with someone that is not invested in football, as they can offer much-needed switch-off time, something that is vital in today’s ever-faster spinning world. As frustrating as it can be when others can be all in and you’re feeling I want to as well, it many times also makes you really good at appreciating everything, and it gives you different perspectives.
I hope that this wee survival guide is able to offer you some perspective on sharing life together with someone that is not necessarily that into football. In fact, I would go against my younger self, who couldn’t believe that there was anything other than a day-to-day life with someone who’s as mad about football like me, and say that life is BETTER together with someone that is not a mad hatter about people kicking a ball around. It allows me a place and a pair of arms to come home to, that is not going to ask me about how the London derby went.
Image featured at the top is by Moazzam Brohi.