The first thing I ever said to my boyfriend was, “Oh God ... you go to Florida State?”
As a University of Florida student, it was a miracle that we ever said more than those seven words to each other.
Of course, that question was followed by snarky banter.
You know college rivalries: sh*t talk, refusal to wear certain colors, irrational disregard for anyone attending the rival school.
I accomplished something I never thought was possible when I not only befriended the enemy, but fell in love with him.
When I brought my boyfriend home to meet my parents, they had to get past the initial sense of judgment, being die-hard Gator fans themselves.
Just the same, I had to prove to his parents that I was good enough to date their son even though I was a Gator.
Although we have made it far enough to enter each other’s stadiums (don't worry; we didn't do each others' chants), there were seven stages I had to go through to come to terms with the fact that I was falling in love with a Seminole *shudders*:
1. Disbelief that it wasn’t a deal breaker.
My boyfriend and I are both avid football fans. We grew up knowing what school we wanted to go to.
I couldn’t believe we had both swallowed our pride enough to not let the sheer hatred for each others' schools be a deal breaker.
He was literally wearing an FSU shirt when I met him.
I deserve a medal.
2. Denial that he was actually a hard-core FSU fan.
Maybe he chose Florida State because they offered him money?
Maybe he was one of those people who doesn’t follow sports and could care less about the rivalry?
Maybe he actually wanted to go to Florida?
Nope. None of the above.
3. Debating with my friends about whether or not it was a big deal.
The night I met my boyfriend, I said to my friend who introduced us, “Maybe it’d be fun to date my rival? Right?”
She encouraged me that I was right even though we both knew it was going to be an adventure.
A long, laborious adventure, but an interesting one, to say the least.
4. Guilt that I was betraying the very root of my school.
Was this betrayal?
Was I being unfaithful to my beloved Gator Nation?
Would administration find out and expel me?
Okay, it's possible I was being irrational, regardless of rationality, I still walked around campus wondering if everyone knew my deep, dark secret.
5. Inevitable rivalry-fueled anger.
As things became more serious in our relationship, so did the sh*t talk.
Ninety-seven percent of the disagreements we’ve had have been over college football.
Between memes, videos, the AP Top 25 Poll and countless statistical comparisons, you could say we got on each other’s nerves with our own school pride.
My boyfriend still gets really mad every time Florida wins, and it's both annoying a validating.
6. The frustration you feel after your rival school has a better season.
Our season is 10-3, but when Florida lost to LSU, I happened to be in Tallahassee for the weekend.
Ever since, I've had this nagging feeling this was the universe’s way of punishing me.
Well played, universe.
It's too bad my team didn't play as well against LSU.
Needless to say, my boyfriend took every advantage of the situation.
7. Accepting that the sh*t talking may never end, but the price to pay is small.
It’s too late to apologize for all of the shade already thrown, but it’s also too late to fall out of love.
Fundamentally, there will never come a day where we both don't love our teams.
When you go to college, you adopt a sense of pride in your institution -- and rivalries come hand-in-hand with said pride.
But at the end of the day, a house-divided sticker on the bumper of my mini van won’t be the end of the world.