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LOVE LETTERS

Honey, I'll call after March Madness

She loves basketball. He’s not game. Was it OK to bench him till after the tourney?

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / March 26, 2011

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Q.I just started dating someone a few weeks ago. So far things are going well. We have a lot to talk about, similar interests, and good chemistry. It all seems very promising. In the course of having a conversation about getting together this week, we realized that we both had plans with friends in the early part of the week. Normally I would suggest getting together later during the week or over the weekend. Except the later part of this week begins the most glorious time of the year, for me: March Madness. I love college basketball, and I look forward to the tournament every year. I fill out unrealistic brackets that have my undergrad college vanquishing Duke by 50 points, I watch all the games, yell, jump up and down, and occasionally throw things (soft things) at the TV.

In the process of getting to know each other, it became pretty clear to me that the guy I am dating is not at all into college basketball. When, briefly, it looked like my graduate school alma mater might be getting a berth in the tournament, I was trying to explain how excited I was, and he all but patted me on the head while rolling his eyes. So when we were discussing making plans to get together, I said, “I want you to know that I want to hang out with you. I just don’t know when I can do that in the next couple of weeks. You would be welcome to watch basketball with me, but I know you’re not into it, and I get the sense that you don’t find it terribly interesting. It’s not for everyone, and maybe it seems silly, but I love it and it makes me happy.’’ His response was along the lines of, “I don’t think you’re silly, but you’re right that I don’t share your love of watching basketball on TV, and I’m not sure that watching a game with you would be fulfilling my desire to spend time with you. Why don’t you check in with me when you come up for air?’’ Since then, our conversations have been tense and I get the sense that he feels like I should want to see him more than I want to watch a basketball game.

Is there a better way I could have handled the situation? Should I want to see him more than I want to watch a basketball game? Or should I confine my future dating to the NCAA personals (if only such a thing existed)?

LOVE AND BASKETBALL

A.You could have handled the situation better by making time. Dates can be brief, and you have to eat, right? Instead of giving him a speech about how unavailable you planned to be, you could have asked him for a quick dinner during a less important game (I know, I know, they’re all important). You could have DVR’d the start of a game and watched it a few hours late. You could have asked him to come over on Saturday at the end of a game, promising a late-night viewing of a movie of his choice.

Don’t get me wrong — I like your speech, because it was clear and honest. But when you start dating someone you don’t know very well, you’re supposed to capitalize on the excitement of it all. If your potential significant other tells you that he/she would rather watch games for weeks than see you, it can be deflating. The beginning of a relationship requires momentum. You killed it, a bit.

My advice is to (a) think about why you didn’t want to squeeze him in and (b) ask him to have dinner with you next week, making it clear that you’ll make this up to him. If he doesn’t bite, you can start looking for someone who wants to watch this stuff with you.

MEREDITH

READERS RESPOND:

The honeymoon phase of your new relationship is oh-ver. And you’ve seen a glimpse of his dark side — he’s possessive. Hopefully it’s just a blip on the radar. Your relationship is in the stage where you two are testing out boundaries — the borders of “you,’’ “him,’’ and “us.’’ LIFELESSONSLEARNED

As ubiquitous as the NCAA tournament seems to be, there really are times when they are not playing that brand of minor-league basketball. Suggest a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday date. Or meet for brunch on Saturday or Sunday morning, before the games even start. ALASTAIRCOOKIE

Dump this guy. He’s obviously a loser if he doesn’t care at all about the best tournament in the world. You can find someone better, easy. COLDSTAIND

“You killed it, a bit’’ is a big understatement. She killed it a lot. If some guy pulled that on me, he’d be blinded by the dust my escape made. Maybe you should stop dating until you realize that missing one game (this from an avid Sox fan who even watches spring training games) is not the end of the world. GRACIEJ

I also applaud your love of the sport, but you totally blew him off for a basketball game. How would you feel if the shoe were on the other foot? We live in an age where you could have DVR’ed the game or even probably watched it online later. I would call him, admit your error, and see if you can salvage what sounds like the beginning of a great relationship. MAMK2

There are ways to compromise, since games aren’t on 24/7, especially as the brackets get smaller. But that’s not the point. The point is his attitude about something that lights your fire. I hate college basketball. It bores me senseless. It was my ex’s favorite time of the year. (If genders were reversed, I might suspect he wrote this letter.) When given the choice between not seeing him or watching a game with him, I chose the game (and brought a book). I tried. He appreciated that I made an effort and our relationship was stronger for it. REDFISHBLUEFISH

I am going to call a great big foul against Meredith and those who agree with her advice. I think you did fine. Don’t acquiesce by doing something like DVRing the first part of a game to have dinner with him or choosing one of the games to miss for him. For one thing, it’s not like you shut him out — you were willing to share your time with him so long as it was while watching the games. He could have done a crossword and talked to you during commercial breaks. I’m just saying if this is so important to you, don’t alter it so quickly for him, maybe not ever, certainly not in the beginning when you have no idea where it will go. MMMZ

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.