This post is specifically targeted at Three-Years-Ago Me. Three-Years-Ago Me had recently discovered the true extent of her partner’s gaming hobby and had decided that she would be totally cool and reasonable about it. Little did she know, she was not yet past the Bargaining Stage of the gamer/non-gamer relationship and she felt that her being totally cool and reasonable meant that he owed her big time later on. Payment was accepted in the form of watching chick flicks and giving hugs on demand.
Oh, silly Three-Years-Ago Me. It was only later on that I realised that there is a difference between me putting up with him gaming and me actually being supportive of his hobby. Where I thought I was being reasonable and accepting, I was really just continually biting my tongue, laying on the guilt trips, occasionally losing my patience when I felt I had tolerated enough, and all the while, never actually accepting his hobby at all.
I don’t want to discount the fact that even putting up with a partner’s hobby can be a big step for many people in relationships with gamers, particularly for non-gamers who are new to the quirks of the gaming lifestyle. But acceptance is more of a continuum – while “putting up with his gaming” is a fair way away from “console-destroying psycho girlfriend“, but that next level of “blissful understanding and acceptance” is a much more pleasant way to live.
Take a moment to think about it from the gamer’s perspective. It’s like when you were a kid and you tried to sneak cartoons in when you were supposed to be doing your homework. While cartoons are awesome and one of your favourite pastimes, you are constantly living in fear that your mum will come in, yell at you for watching and take away your TV privileges. Kinda takes the fun out of it, right? Imagine instead if your mum said “Oh Pumpkin, Power Rangers is starting soon, you don’t want to miss it”. What a joy it would be to be given that guilt-free TV time!
Now, I’m not saying that you have to be okay with it all the time. There are still plenty of days where I think my gamer should really be doing something else, and I tell him (nicely, of course). These kinds of relationships still work both ways and rely on both the gamers and the non gamers to be reasonable. But, on those other days where the world will definitely not come crashing down if your partner simply plays a game or two, just let them be, and throw in a simple “good luck, have fun!” for good measure. Or, if they’ve just gotten home from work after a tough day, perhaps suggest that they chill and enjoy their video games for a bit. Let them play, with your blessing. They’ll appreciate it.