Robert Ullman

Uh-oh. You know that cute guy/girl/person/whatever you started flirting with, and then making out with, and then hanging out with during that blissful two-week period in July or February when sports decide to kind of take a break for a minute? Well, now it's Saturday in September and this person is suddenly asking if their coat of purple body paint is even. That's right. You've gotten yourself into a relationship with a crazy sports fan and everything is ruined. Ruined! Or is it? Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of knowledge and communication can make this thing work.

Use sports to figure out who they really are.

Sure, you just discovered you're dating someone who values watching other people play children's games over everything else (including schoolwork and hygiene), but look on the bright side! There is so much information to be gleaned from how they engage with sports. Here are some useful shortcuts to judging your partner's character based on their brand of sports fandom.

Are they a Red Sox fan despite having never been to Boston? Huge red flag.

Do they switch allegiances to whoever is winning when watching a game? Cut loose that future investment-banking sociopath.

Do they call members of opposing teams "gay" a lot? Hey look, you found out you're dating a loser!

Do they refer to players as "thugs"? You're dating a racist!

None of these are good signs, but they are informative. I strongly suggest breaking up if they fit any of the above scenarios. Especially the Boston thing.

Set boundaries.

Specifically, I recommend drawing the line at college football. Did you know that FBS NCAA football is the worst? College football features all of the mind-destroying action of the NFL with none of the paying-the-players part. It also sucks resources away from you, the increasingly in-debt person at a university that has devoted much of its resources to injuring people and then helping them cheat their way through their classes just so that they can help maintain a lucrative sports program. Who is making tons of money off of this scam? Rich old white men!

Is this a gross oversimplification of college football? Only kind of! So—and yes, I'm looking at you, University of Washington freshman—am I suggesting you completely abandon the notion of school spirit in the name of the values of a free newspaper? No! I'm just saying: Watch literally any other sport at your school instead.

Need something that will show up on ESPN? Men's basketball, for all its faults, is way less terrible than football, as basketball does not ruin the brains of its players!

Want to see future professional athletes in a less corrupt setting? Head over to the baseball diamond!

Want to support your state's most dominant sports program? Head over to the lake and watch the women row crew! Have you ever watched a boatful of woman row crew? You haven't? You should.

Learn these eight names.

If you're really into someone who's really into sports, you're going to have to know a few local sports figures. You don't have to know anything about them, you just have to not say, "Who is that again?" when they're brought up in conversation, which will happen a lot.

Russell Wilson is the quarterback of the Seahawks. He's also recently single, so if you have the chance to lock that down, go for it.

Pete Carroll is the Seahawks' head coach, and is the least "football coach" football coach in the NFL. He makes his players do yoga and tries to build up their self-esteem. It's cool.

Richard Sherman is amongst the Seahawks' best defenders (the team plays really good defense) and is also famous for yelling at TV cameras.

University of Washington football coach Chris Petersen is the highest-paid state employee in Washington, which is a goddamn atrocity.

Clint Dempsey is one of America's greatest soccer players and plies his trade for the Seattle Sounders. Going to a Sounders or Reign match is an essential Seattle experience that's way cooler than eating mediocre food in the Space Needle.

There's no NBA team in town, but tech billionaire Chris Hansen is still trying to change that by bringing back the Sonics. He probably won't succeed, but A for effort.

Infielder Robinson Cano and starting pitcher Felix Hernandez are notable Seattle Mariners.

Despite the Mariners' strong year (heads up, the Mariners are good!), the team still trades on the success of Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, basking in the glow of 1995... oh god, you were born in 1995... or later... let's move on...

Most of all, take this opportunity to figure out what you value.

Odds are this won't be your last relationship (I know, I know, but seriously), so use sports the way they're meant to be used: as an emotional stand-in. Figure out what your limits are, learn how to compromise, and do it with this totally innocuous proxy for real-life issues. Then when you have to debate having a third kid, or moving to Indiana for work, or satisfying a strange sexual proclivity, you'll know how to say yes and when to say no. recommended