Is Gaming Ruining Your Relationship?
Do you play any kind of electronic games? Maybe it’s Angry Birds on your phone or Zelda on your Nintendo DS or even The Sims 3 or World of Warcraft on your computer. How often do you get to play these games? Some people find electronic games very relaxing and enjoy sitting down and playing them as a means of winding down after a long day of work or school.
For some people, however, playing electronic games is not simply a means to unwind; rather, it is a way of life. Gaming takes up a large portion of their time – even to the point where their gaming habits are affecting their relationships with other people. Is your significant other addicted to gaming?
Video game addiction, unlike drug or alcohol addictions, is not considered an actual medical diagnosis; however, as with any addiction, playing video games too frequently can affect one’s job and/or school performance as well as potentially damage relationships with one’s family, friends, and significant other.
How do you know when somebody you love may be addicted to video games? Look for the following behavioral traits:
- He would rather continue playing video games than go out and socialize with people.
- He stays up until late hours of the night gaming and usually wakes up for work or school tired and cranky.
- He becomes unusually frustrated and angry when the gaming system or network temporarily breaks/is offline.
- He is playing games while talking to you on the phone or when you are in the same room as he, and you know he is not fully listening to a word you say. There may be a delay in his response time when you ask him a question, or his responses to you may not be more elaborate than a grunting sound or simple “yeah” or “no.”
- He chooses video games over taking care of himself. Instead of eating a balanced diet, exercising, and even bathing, he sits around and plays his video game all day. It is especially alarming when this becomes a regular behavior.
- He neglects responsibilities/chores around the house in order to have more time to play games.
- He downplays his video game use or makes excuses for playing games for as long as he has. If you ask him how long he played video games on any given day, he will either lie and tell you that he’s been playing for, say, 3 or 4 hours when you know he has spent the entire night playing, or he will make an excuse as to why he had to be playing video games all night. “I had a super stressful day at work,” or “My mom is mad at me, and I needed to unwind” are common examples of excuses heard by significant others of gaming addicts.
Most likely, if your significant other does spend an excessive amount of time gaming, you feel neglected, and understandably so! What can you do? Is it time to break off the relationship? Before you throw in the towel on the entire relationship, there are a few other things you can try:
- Talk to him. This one should be obvious, since the best relationships thrive on always keeping communication open. If video games are really impacting the quality of your relationship, you need to tell your significant other exactly how his gaming makes you feel. Approach the subject gently; do not simply tell him, “It’s me or the games!”, but tell him that you care about him and want to spend more time with him, but the games are getting in the way of that. Tell him how neglected you feel when he chooses video games over spending time with you or does not fully listen to you when you talk to him. If he truly cares about you, he will take your feelings into consideration.
- Suggest other things you can do together, and make plans. Start a weekly tradition. Do you both like board games? Do you have a shared interest in playing a sport? Are you both into arts and crafts or volunteering? Plans events that help encourage him to get into the outside world. Who knows – he may find that he likes it more than the gaming system. Just make sure that wherever you go or whatever you do, he is away from the source of his gaming addiction.
- Compromise with him. You do not want him to see you as an antagonist, or the person who took away his beloved games, so instead of demanding that he stops playing the games entirely, tell him to cut back an hour or two each day so that you can spend time together.
- If he is unwilling to admit that he has a video game problem, but his gaming is still affecting the quality of your relationship, suggest therapy. Tread carefully with this one. Nobody wants to hear that he may need therapy, so this is definitely a subject to bring up lightly. Try to approach the subject with a positive spin: talk about how you enjoy spending quality time together and how the therapy would help you have more of it. Talk about how it will make your relationship stronger. Talk about how the therapy will ultimately lead to both of you being happier with the state of your relationship. Do not push him to be defensive by insisting that he needs therapy because he has a problem; you will be significantly less likely to get him to cooperate with you. Also assure him that therapy is something you can try and let him know that if it is not working, you both can stop.
If you have tried directly addressing your significant other’s gaming addiction with him, and he has clearly put no effort into changing his ways, it may be time to get out of the relationship. Why stay with a person who takes you for granted when you can be with a person who will fully love and respect you?
Have you or has anybody you know been in a relationship with somebody who had a video game addiction? How did you or the person you know handle that situation? Did things get better after some intervention?