Video Games and Relationships (How to Manage Both)

I’m sick and tired of video games constantly being slandered. Angry parents, spouses and partners often refer to them as “wastes of time” that only children should play. A question to anyone who’s anti-video games:

Being a member of several online video game groups, I can’t go a day without reading something along the lines of “Hey everyone! I love to play video games, but my spouse thinks it’s a waste of time. What should I do?” Let’s be clear – all hobbies are arguably a waste of time. This is especially true when your hobby is judging other people’s hobbies.

Typically, when a spouse declares war against your hobby, it’s usually less about the hobby itself and more about how it’s taking away from the time you spend together. Life is a balancing act. Those who figure out how to successfully balance their various priorities will often experience longer-lasting happiness.

I’m lucky to be in a relationship with a highly emotionally intelligent woman. My wife is extremely understanding and supports my interests. However, if something I’m doing starts to take up a lot of my time, she’ll want to know why. Sounds reasonable, right?

It’s fair to say most arguments in a relationship are a result from a breakdown in communication. It’s shocking how common this is. Communicating patiently and effectively sounds easy, but it’s much more difficult than it appears. Couples, especially ones who’ve been together awhile, will resort to expecting their partner know certain things. Couples need to periodically check in with each other to discuss how they’re feeling. It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of a successful long-term relationship.

Not only is being in a relationship hard work, but being a gamer too? There are simply not enough hours in the day. No matter the style of gaming you like to do, they often require a substantial amount of time to get through. It’s particularly difficult for someone like me because I have an addictive personality. Like a greedy little koala bear, I latch onto things that make me feel good. Video games have always been on the ball getting my brain to pump that bomb-ass neurochemical dopamine. I’m lucky to have a patient and even-tempered wife. Other are not so lucky.

Why do video games get such a bad rap? I think part of the problem is we live in a society where people are expected to work 40+ hours/week. One’s spare time is typically reserved for family, and whatever little time you have left can be for chores and maybe a hobby. It’s a vicious circle and I don’t care to be caught inside of it. Some people view gaming as a waste of time. I view those people as having too much time on their hands.

Video games aren’t totally innocent either. Nowadays, games are designed to keep the gamer gaming. With online play, achievements and micro-transactions, game developers are doing everything they can to keep you out of the real world and inside their fictional escape havens.

Gamers always have something to work towards and achieve. And if you don’t put in the time, someone else is going to beat you to it. It’s a nefarious combination of FOMO (fear of missing out) and peer pressure. According to this FORBES article, gamers (26-35 years old) in 2019 played on average 8 hours a week, which was a 25% increase from 2018. What does that say about the world we live in? Maybe our lives are becoming increasingly more stressful, so we choose to spend more time in a place where the graphics and soundtrack are awesome.

With video games being designed to keep you playing, it seems inevitable that you’ll encounter a riff with your spouse/significant other. Here are some things you can do to avoid any blowouts:

  1. COMMUNICATE – whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just starting out, it’s vital you let your better half know what your plans are. If you want a few hours on the weekend to drop in with the boys/girls, it’s smart to let your partner know. It wouldn’t be any different if you we’re going out with your friends, right?
  2. Set realistic expectations – What days and what times do you plan on gaming? Make sure you have designated time with your partner and for gaming. Setting boundaries will help you both to stay within your agreed upon limitations and avoid conflict.
  3. Invite them to play with you – if you haven’t done so already, try finding a game your partner would enjoy playing with you. You’d be surprised at how willing they are because it’s an opportunity to spend time together and bond over something.
  4. Don’t skirt your responsibilities – This may tie in with #2, but it’s extremely important you make time for your partner. If they feel neglected, they’re going to resent when you game.

There you have it. I hope these tips find you before you’re banished to sleeping on the couch. Although, it’s already shaped to your ass so how bad could it be?

Have you had any issues with a significant other over gaming? Share your experience or some tips you may have below!

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