Relationships 101:
Competing with your beau

by Bonnie Burton

So you're both great at basketball, get straight A's and wow your classmates at debate meets - but what happens when you and your beloved start competing against each other? Can you be a good sport and a great girlfriend at the same time? Sometimes it's hard to be the best at foosball and still keep your relationship in tact. Here are a few pointers on how to be a good loser and winner.

You are the drama queen. You and your beau both try out for the school play. You get the lead, and he's listed as the Third Tree. Instead of teasing him about his future thespian career in shrubbery, take a moment to congratulate him on his part in the play. Perhaps you can also ask him for help studying your lines. That way he can feel just as needed in the play as you are.

He's obsessed with comparing grades. Spending one night cramming for that European history test didn't exactly pay off and you have a dull, middle-of-the-road C. Your boyfriend on the other hand, who annoyingly pays attention in class, got an A. Chances are he's going to want to see your grade. Here's the deal. If you don't want to show him what you got, tell him so. You can share secrets, dreams and TV plot spoilers, but there's no rule saying you have to show him all your test grades. You don't have to be snooty about it though. Just tell him that sharing grades puts an extra pressure on you that you don't want. And keep in mind he might just want an excuse to show you his grade in an academic way of flirting.

Be a team player. If your boy likes to be the star player, there's nothing wrong with that. And if you dunk more basketballs than he does, then good for you. But always remind yourself that being the best doesn't mean making someone else feel like a big loser. Instead of concentrating on the trash talk and the victory dances, why not give your boyfriend a chance to shine? And if he can't handle your extra-impressive skills in basketball, hockey or whatever sport you're into, then maybe you should rethink his motives. He may want a cheerleader instead of a girlfriend.

Music to your ears. You both try out for first chair in violin in orchestra. He gets it while you're stuck with second chair. Instead of jabbing him with your bow every time the conductor isn't looking, let him know you're proud of him and let the guy have his moment in the spotlight.

Winning isn't everything. After winning Monopoly for the 90th time, maybe you should give your boyfriend a chance to drive across Boardwalk with out having to pay the national debt for once. Sure winning has its glory, but if you always win, no one will want to play with you anymore. Didn't we learn this already in kindergarten?

Harvard or State? Just because you two battle to see who's the best at Tomb Raider, debate team, movie trivia and stuffing marshmallows in your mouth, doesn't mean you need to compete when it comes to your future. Apply to a college you really want to attend, not one you think will make your beau green with envy. Sure Harvard and Princeton sound great, but if you honestly rather take creative writing at the state university 20 minutes away, by all means apply there. In the end, you'll be competing with the most important adversary there is - yourself.

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