Many angry or frustrated Partners of Gamers that I have encountered in the past tend to look at gaming in the same way. Video games are the enemy, their competition, that one evil thing that is getting in between them and their loved one. Partners of Gamers have been known to utter phrases such as “he loves his video games more than he loves me” or “she’s cheating on me with her PS4”.
If your partner likes gaming, it’s easy to draw this link and also to then start catastrophising about what this must be saying about your relationship together. But let me tell you, as someone who has been there and done that, the reality is probably nowhere near as complex or as grave as your mind is leading you to believe. I’ve touched on this topic before, but as there are some new to the blog, I thought it might be a good time to explore this in a bit more detail: it’s not you vs the game.
I was chatting with a non-gamer friend who recently moved in with her gamer boyfriend. My friend was concerned that her boyfriend was losing interest in the relationship because every night after dinner, at the exact moment when she wanted to cuddle on the couch, her boyfriend would make a move for the Xbox. “He’s casting me aside. Could he be losing interest in me now that we’ve moved in together?” she asked. My response to her (after first showing an adequate level of sympathy, of course) was “…maybe that’s just the time of the evening that he likes to play games..?” I’ve posted before about that nasty shock we non-gamers may experience when first moving in with our gamer partners, where we are first exposed to the true extent of their gaming and the real hours that they put into their hobby. We may assume this shift in behaviour has something to do with us and not that we are just finally seeing them in their natural habitat (geez, I sound like David Attenborough).
Many years ago, when I first learnt of my own partner’s true gaming habits, I must admit that my mind didn’t know what to make of it all. Not being a gamer myself, I couldn’t quite fathom how a hobby could keep him entertained for so long, day in and day out. He’s gaming, AGAIN? He must be getting bored of me. Or maybe he just wants me to react. Or maybe he’s playing just so I’ll have do the dishes. Something MUST be up. It just didn’t make sense to me. But, over time and with decent communication between the two of us, I eventually discovered why he played his computer games so much and realised that I had been reading way too far into his reactions. Spoiler alert: He just really, really liked gaming. And that was all there was to it.
Just because your gamer wants to spend time playing, it does not mean that they love you any less. Their feelings towards gaming and towards you are mutually exclusive events. I’m sure that in their ideal world, they could spend time with you AND play their games at the same time. In MY ideal world, I could bake some choc chip cookies while playing with our puppy, but that’s not going to happen either.
Also consider that our gamer partners may be so preoccupied playing their games (and/or bad at reading our way-too-subtle emotional cues) that they are oblivious to the fact that we’ve been worrying ourselves silly about all this, and so may not automatically take any steps to change their behaviour. Turns out my friend’s boyfriend had no clue she felt the way she did and assumed that she was fine with his gaming because she had never said anything to suggest otherwise. If you’re worried that your partner’s gaming habits are dominating your relationship, communicate your concerns (I give advice on how to best do this in a previous post) before you react negatively.
Take-away message of this post? Try to ditch the “it’s me vs their video games” attitude. Before you start feeling like third wheel to their games, consider that maybe your partner really does love you and that there are no hidden motives or secrets behind their gaming – they just really want to play the damn game.