As the Summer 2012 Olympic Games are upon us, we can’t help but let our minds wander to the excitement in London (and of course, to all of the lovely six-pack abs they provide for our viewing entertainment). They may be the best in the world, but the athletes we cheer for on screen aren’t so different from us everyday collegiettes when it really comes down to it. Between their passion plays, their power plays, and even their naughty play (we’ll get to that later!), the men and women who are going for gold this year teach us a few winning love lessons, champion-approved.
Love Lesson 1: There’s No “I” in Team
Did you think the U.S.’s women’s soccer team won gold in 2008 without knowing how to work as a team? Of course not! When it comes to teamwork, these ladies are the authority – without trust, communication, and support for one another, the team would never have scored a single goal, let alone a medal.
Okay, so you and your guy don’t exactly make up an entire soccer team, but relationship expert and author of Secrets of Happy Couples Kim Olver insists that teamwork is just as “critical” for a healthy relationship as it is for a gold-standard team. “When we get into a relationship with someone,” Olver explains, “we’re actually testing out what it’s like to be interdependent. [The couple] will in fact function as a team, and if one or both team members aren’t holding up their end, then things can really fall apart.”
According to Olver, collegiettes and their man candy have to develop the trust necessary for teamwork in the same way that the Olympic teams do: the hard way. “Time is a very crucial factor in trust, as is pressure,” she says. “Things can go very well under normal circumstances, but have a critical incident and the person may behave in a way that they could never think that they would behave because it’s an unusual circumstance.” Teamwork takes time, and it takes a lot of missed passes (or huffy arguments, if you will) before you can get into a long-term rhythm, but it’s worth the effort. To speed things up (and to avoid as many missed passes as possible), Olver suggests transparency: be yourself and be honest with your guy, and encourage him to do the same. The next time you have an argument about something, ask him what he would have liked you to have done differently and why (and vice versa!) so that you can figure out where the disconnect is and work on a compromise for next time. The better you get to know your teammate, the better you’ll be able to anticipate and understand his thoughts so that you can work together to solve problems (and score goals, of course).
Love Lesson 2: Don’t Count Out the Underdog
When you look at Michael Phelps, you immediately see “Olympian”: he’s tall, he’s got arms to rival oars, and he’s built of solid muscle (or so we like to imagine). He’s the ideal swimmer in every way, so it’s not surprising that he’s got sixteen Olympic medals under his belt/speedo. Appearing to be the perfect Olympian doesn’t necessarily make you a gold-medalist, though; in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, short track speed skater Steven Bradbury proved that even the underdog can come out on top. Bradbury, then 29, just barely squeaked through the first two rounds of the 1,000-meter event before facing the best of the best, all of whom happened to be younger, faster, and better-ranked than he was. Despite the disadvantage, Bradbury crossed the finish line first. Sure, the three opponents ahead of him all crashed... but that comes with the territory in speed skating, and this underdog had the strategy, skill, and smarts to stay on his feet for the win.
Moral of the story? A guy doesn’t have to come off as a winner at first glance in order to be one! And if there’s anything we collegiettes have learned from our experiences with some of the bro-iest, big-man-on-campus types, it’s that the hottest or most sought-after guys don’t always turn out to be Boyfriends of the Year. (Understatement of the year?)
Shaye, a rising junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology, says that we should start looking for guys outside of the spotlight, for the ones who might not register on our dating radar right away: the underdogs. “The last boy I dated for an extended period of time was different than my normal picks – he was the underdog. The ‘math tutor’ type. But I loved it. In my eyes he was the cutest and sweetest person. Things were short-lived, but he changed my views on who I go for… Lately I've been going for the underdog and I think that every girl should give this guy a try.”
If you’re not finding what you’re looking for already, you might not be looking in the right places. Open your eyes up to the guys who didn’t make your heart skip a beat at first sight – Mr. Nice Guy might just win you over on the second try!