On being in a relationship with a professional athlete.
Hello everybody, welcome to episode 40 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
We might get famous with today’s episode, folks, if we do a good job. No, we have a question coming in today from a woman who is staring a major life change in the face — a change that it’s easy to be thrilled about, but as we know, or will know by the end of the episode, even the best of changes can bring great difficulty. Without further ado, let’s hear the question and help out…
QUESTION: “It’s very hard for me to ask this question. It’s a concern I haven’t expressed before and don’t know who to go to. My boyfriend has recently signed to become a professional athlete. This means a lot of money, a lot of travel, and a lot of temptation. He’s a wonderful guy, but I can’t help but to get nervous about him cheating on me, and it’s getting obvious that this is eating away at me because of how grouchy I find myself being with him over little things. I don’t want to believe he’ll fall into the same stereotype as other professional athletes, but it’s become hard not to. Are these feelings real?”
Being in A Relationship with A Professional Athlete
Ok. Certainly a tough spot to be in, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s such a unique position It’s not like there are professional athletes’ partners around every corner that you can talk to at any old time for advice.
There probably will be in your future, which is good news, but for now, you’re stuck with me. Ha, good luck.
No, seriously though. You concluded by asking me if these feelings are real.
Yes, the feelings are real but that doesn’t mean that the thoughts are real. The feelings you’re having about this are there, and they’re perfectly valid, so don’t start making a monster out of yourself and projecting any more than you already have onto your boyfriend.
But these feelings of concern aren’t the only feelings that real. Other feelings of yours that are very real and very important to stay mindful of are the feelings of love I can only assume you already get and have gotten towards your boyfriend.
This is a big change in his life which could, yes, lead to any number of paths good or bad, just the same as any other change could, but based on your experience with him thus far, do you have any legitimate reason — not including a stereotype — to think that his character will change?
The character you know and have known; care about and have cared about?
Your Boyfriend's Qualities
I suggest you take a minute to go over what you know about him.
Is he loving? Loyal? Fun? Good to you? Passionate? Ambitious?
Give him a fair shot and really reflect on all of his qualities; good and bad. Think about them up until the signing of his contract and separate from how you feel professional athletes typically are. Once you’ve done this, and you have an OBJECTIVE compiling of his qualities…then it’s fair to measure him against a stereotype.
Professional Athlete Stereotypes
If he predominantly displays traits of dedication, professionalism, humility, etc., then we both know it’s not IMPOSSIBLE, but unrealistic and unfair to assume he’ll fall into the negative stereotypes you worry about.
If, on the other hand, he’s let his talents go to his head, he’s maybe behaved questionably with other women, and he enjoys the attention he tends to garner, then, sure, the likelihood is increased. Still doesn’t guarantee anything, but these would be grounds on which to question the relationship regardless of whether or not this contract signing ever happened.
Breaking Away from Stereotypes
Now, if he does display good qualities, but you’re not quite sold yet, look to yourself and others in your life.
What are some of your labels and the labels of others you spend time with? What do you do for work? What kind of clothes do you wear? What kind of music do you listen to?
Consider the long lists of stereotypes that would follow each of these labels and ask yourself, do YOU fall firmly into all those categories?
Of course you don’t. You’re layered, and there’s more to you and I have to think you feel the same about somebody who was worth getting into a romantic relationship with.
People who are comfortable thinking for themselves deviate from stereotypes on a regular basis, and if they don’t, there probably isn’t anything interesting about them.
Yet still, we stereotype to try to understand people we don’t know. We stereotype to get ahead of the curve. It’s a natural…defense mechanism…in many ways. It’s really not as aggressive a process as a lot of people think it is, which is too bad. You already know and care for this man, so why start grouping him in now?
What Lies in Your Future Dating a Professional Athlete
Obviously, as I sort of alluded to a couple paragraphs ago, you don’t know what the future holds. You don’t know what road he’ll go down ,what road you’ll go down, or what road you go down as a couple.
But you do know what road you’re on now, and all you can do now is be as levelheaded as you can and take steps to insure that you’re going down as good a road as possible. That mean a couple of things:
1. Practice Clear Communication
That means being communicative with your boyfriend about these feelings in a non-aggressive way. You mentioned not knowing who to go to about this struggle; go to him. The secrecy of these feelings and your acknowledgment of how it’s causing you to be ornery is not helping anyone. His reaction to your vulnerability will only tell you more you need to know about the type of person and partner he is.
2. Support Your Partner (if he's deserving)
It also means being supportive of him as long as you feel he’s deserving of your support.
Don’t forget about his struggles in this thing as well. Sure, on the outside it looks big and fancy, but it’s still a major shift for him that inevitably comes with complications — one of which might include the stereotypes people might group him into.
The bottom line is that this will be a change for both of you, and it’s no time for either of you to be making one another out to feel like an enemy or an outsider.
And there we have it, everyone. Very thankful to have been trusted with such a difficult subject as always, especially honored to have been the first person the asker went to; so thank you for that, thank you for contributing to the show, and I sure hope all listeners took something away today.
As per usual, if you have questions of your own that you’d like to send in, I’m sure you’re learning that we cover a wide range, so please don’t hesitate to send them to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
We’re happy to do what we can for you, obviously everyone’s identity is protected and it’s a safe place to bring your concerns to. You can also join our online community by adding yourself to the OLD podcast newsletter (scroll to the bottom of this site). There are a lot of great weekly updates on there about all our shows and all our goings on.
That takes us to the end. Thanks for coming, everyone. Good luck out there. Come back next time. Can’t wait.