Can a Man have a Playstation and a Girlfriend at the same time?
February 2, 2009 7:20 AM   Subscribe

The other night, my girlfriend and I had finished cleaning up the place and doing the dishes so I went to have a shower. When I got out, she was reading her book on the lounge. I sat down as well and watched TV for a min and then decided to put the Playstation on. That's when the bad things happened.

Since she just kept on reading while I was sitting on the lounge, I assumed she was content to keep on reading. Oh how wrong I was.

After I had been playing for about 3 mins, she went into the bedroom. I assumed to go to the bathroom in our ensuite. Then 5 mins later she came out, got a drink of water and walked back into the bedroom issuing a surly "Good night," as she went past.

I may not be a genius when it comes to women but I knew I was in trouble for something. I went in there and she is almost in tears, saying she was looking forward to sitting on then lounge with me for a quiet evening and how I had ruined everything.

This event has got me pretty worried. Firstly because I can't see I did anything wrong. We were both sitting on the lounge together having a quiet evening just like she wanted. She was doing what she wanted to do and I was doing what I wanted to do. There would not have been any more or less communication or connection between us had I been reading as well or doing anything else. She was fine when I was just wtching TV but as soon as I had control over what was happening on the screen it all went off the rails.

Secondly, do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first?

Thirdly and most importantly, I'm worried that this is a sign of something a lot bigger.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (81 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't do anything wrong. Tell her that you didn't want to interrupt her reading and that if she wants to spend time with you, all she needs to do is ask.

The "something a lot bigger" to be concerned about is that your girlfriend seems irrational and immature and has unreasonable expectations that you should read her mind. You don't tell us how long you've been going out or how long you've known her, or if she's done things like this before, so it's hard to determine whether or not she may have had a bad day or something, though.
posted by Nattie at 7:26 AM on February 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Dude your a goner. If you can't read the obvious message conveyed by "I'm sitting on a couch reading", then there's no hope for your relationship with this or any other woman. OTOH it could be perhaps that her interpretation of a quiet evening is anything but PSII games.
posted by Gungho at 7:28 AM on February 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

It is a sign of something a lot bigger: your girlfriend doesn't know how to communicate what she wants and, further, doesn't thing she deserves what she wants.

If she didn't want you to play video games, she should have just said, "I was hoping we could spend a quiet night on the couch" when you turned on the machine. However, she instead hoped you would somehow surmise that her reading a book means you sitting quietly... I dunno, watching her read a book. When that didn't happen, she figured you wanted the video game more then you wanted what she thought you both wanted and she went in her room to cry, thinking, "Woe is me, he'd rather play a video game than watch me read!"

I'm curious... did you ask her what she wanted you to do while she read?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:30 AM on February 2, 2009

I'm not exactly sure what the long prelude was for (or to prove) but some people view video gaming as not the most socially agreeable hobby. I'm sure situations like the one you describe happen every night and, despite the subtle sexist undertone, really means that one of you is enjoying something that the other one does not.

You need to talk to her about it. I've been in this and other situations and there is no arm chair anonymous internet analysis that will solve this problem. It may not be pleasant, you might find out things you'd rather not know (for instance, she might hate video games) but it will be the only way to move past this.
posted by purephase at 7:31 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

if she didn't tell you what she wanted, you can't be expected to know it. now, some women are crazy and will insist that isn't true, but those are the types you should waste your time with.

things to consider for the future -
after you got out of the shower, did you speak to her at all or just turn on the tv? were you close in proximity, touching her leg, leaning over to give her a kiss on the cheek from time to time? did you acknowledge her when she left the room? were you sounds up loud interrupting her reading?

as most relationship filter questions go - when neither of you are feeling pissed about what happened, talk about it. ask her how you were supposed to know by her having her nose in a book that she expected you guys were going to have a nice couple-y snuggle on the couch and how she can use her words in the future to let you know that.
posted by nadawi at 7:32 AM on February 2, 2009

I'm not saying she was right or that she shouldn't have just told you what the deal was, but usually video game noises are way more annoying than TV, especially to those who don't play video games. I probably would have said to you, "Those video game sounds are really distracting, can you turn it down, or can we do something else?"
posted by fructose at 7:33 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thirdly and most importantly, I'm worried that this is a sign of something a lot bigger.

Well, is it or isn't it? This story doesn't mean anything the way you've laid it out- one night, we all have bad days. How long have you guys been together and been living together? How often are you playing video games? How often does that make your girlfriend upset? How often does your girlfriend get upset and keep silent and expect you to run after her to make it all better?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:38 AM on February 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

Your girlfriend was in the wrong. Reading is just as anti-social an activity (if not more so) than playing a video game. If she wanted to spend time with you (actively talking or whatever), she should have put down her book when you came into the room. She definitely shouldn't act like you ought to be able to read her mind regarding what she wants, when she is actively engaged in something else.

You need to have an honest discussion with her about this. She sounds a little immature (I've pulled the same stunt myself, actually, but it was in my first serious relationship and I didn't know better). She needs to learn how to ask for what she wants and how to clearly say something to you when she is upset, rather than a sarcastic "good night!" and tears about how you don't love her enough. I would also ask what her problem with the video game was--it can be distracting when my boyfriend is playing a video game while I'm trying to read, but I have the option to go sit in another room if I want to continue paying attention to my book. The book is portable; the game system is not.

Good luck.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:39 AM on February 2, 2009 [14 favorites]

1. Playing video games is an antisocial thing to do in a room where someone is reading a book. It makes a whole lot of noise and it's distracting. You could at least have said, do you mind if I put the playstation on? Then you would have had an opening for a conversation about what to do in the evening.

2. If your girlfriend wants to do something specific in the evening, she is going to have to learn to ask, and you are going to have to learn to negotiate and compromise between what she wants to do and what you want to do.

3. Do you ever initiate couple-based activities with your girlfriend? If you are always doing your own thing, and you don't ever say "how about we do XYZ together this weekend?", it's no wonder she is getting fed up. This is something both of you need to be doing if the relationship is important to you.
posted by emilyw at 7:39 AM on February 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

[Horrifically sexist comment]
You will note, from time-to-time in the relationship, that you are supposed to be clairvoyant. There is no defense.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:42 AM on February 2, 2009 [38 favorites]

I have had very similar "failure to read her mind" issues with my woman early in our relationship, and it took some pretty hard and serious discussion to get her to see that I was not going to learn to read her mind. Now she is more willing to speak and less likely to attempt telepathic communication, to our mutual benefit.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:45 AM on February 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

This is, unfortunately, quite common. In my (somewhat limited) experience, a boyfriend is expected to be somewhat clairvoyant to the needs of his girlfriend. While you sit there gaming, millions of tiny little judgments are being made as to the content of your character, all while you happily play. My wife still gets angry about when we were in college and I used to stay in the lobby of the dorm playing SEGA until the middle of the night, when I would finally go upstairs and cuddle into my tiny bed with her. She never told me how mad it made her that I was playing games instead of "being" with her. And me...I had no clue. I still barely do.

From my experience, here's your path of action: 1. sometimes you should smother her with the attention she needs and feels is important for the helps, really. and then 2. play your damn games when you want to because all of your actions shouldn't depend on her un-communicated whims. Find the balance between these two things and you'll be a happy man. I haven't found it yet.
posted by ColdChef at 7:45 AM on February 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

You've just upset me by posting this AskMe. You should have known that I just wanted to have a quiet morning telling people "yes, you can eat it safely" and now the day is ruined. I hope you're happy!

Um, I've done stuff similar to this on the rare occasion... and to be honest, it's been hormonal.

Most of the times I irrationally flip out on Mr. JG (most, not all because, Jesus Christ, sometimes he just brings it on himself), I can blame it on hormones and usually realize it right away.

But dude, whatever you do, don't say to her "HEY, hormones much?!" because I don't want your next Anon AskMe to start "So, my nuts were recently ripped off in a domestic situation..."

Talk to her about it, say you were unaware and would have loved some quiet time with her if you knew that was on her mind. Urge her to verbally express herself more in the future. If this becomes the norm, rather than an exception, you might want to re-examine the relationship a bit. You're not a mind reader.

posted by jerseygirl at 7:46 AM on February 2, 2009 [22 favorites]

Playing video games is an antisocial thing to do in a room where someone is reading a book.

Unless the volume is on 10, I disagree. People read on the subway, in parks, in cars in traffic, in airports, and in restaurants.

Dude, chalk it up and forget about trying to understand it. It's going to happen to you again, and again and again and again. Oh sure, talk about it - definitely. Talk to her about what happened, apologize and assure her you still feel about her how you do, but from years of experience, this is likely going to happen, even if you find the perfect person to be with.

The key is definitely to talk about it, so that that instance of misunderstanding gets smoothed over, but it's going to happen again and again and again with almost anybody you're with. Just keep the lines of communication open, and don't get all frustrated when it happens. Because it's going to happen again, just like it happened this time. And no amount of sterile "she should learn to say x, y and z" is going to stop it from happening again. Communicating may make it easier to smooth over each time, but it's going to happen again.
posted by cashman at 7:47 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

This isn't about "women" in general, it's about you two and your relationship. In a few days you need to have a talk in which you say that you'd like to avoid such situations in future and that you need to know if she feels so strongly about things, instead of having to read her mind.

She needs to know she can ask for what she wants/needs, and you need to know you can rely on her to tell you. And the other way round, as well - you need to tell her what you need. It doesn't mean either of you will always get what you want/need, but it provides a starting point for negotiation and compromise in a way that storming off in tears doesn't.

Sounds simple, but it isn't, and it is a very important thing to work on in any relationship.
posted by altolinguistic at 7:47 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree with Nattie, in that it would help if your girlfriend was more communicative of her wishes. If it's a new relationship, let her know that you'd like to know more about how she'd like you to react to her, or what she'd like to happen when she puts forth non-verbal cues that, at this point, you don't understand. A code, if you would. Maybe she'll be disappointed, as many people seem to imagine that their "one twue wuv" will automagically understand them without words, but, well, that rarely happens.

As for the PS, they are not usually good for relationships. It's very hard to play a game by yourself and maintain any kind of attention to a significant other. By its very nature, it is an attention-sucking black hole. I try to play games when my wife isn't around, or is sleeping in, even though she likes to watch TV in her native language, which I don't fully understand. The thing about that is that I can derive some form of enjoyment from it, or do something with/near her while she enjoys her stories. With games, I'm not "there" and she can't watch tv.

The only real solution I can think of is to see if your girlfriend might like to play some games with you. I don't know what PS you have, but games like Bomberman, or Little Big Planet tend to play well with non-gamers, and can be fun to play together. Maybe if she sees the PS as something she can enjoy, she won't mind if you play it a bit. Then again, she might take it over, if she discovers she likes it.

But yeah, if she wants time together, you on the PS means she's alone, next to you, and she won't like that.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:48 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

This story doesn't mean anything the way you've laid it out- one night, we all have bad days. How long have you guys been together and been living together? How often are you playing video games? How often does that make your girlfriend upset? How often does your girlfriend get upset and keep silent and expect you to run after her to make it all better?

Yes, this. You've conveniently phrased the scenario to favor yourself: in this tiny incident, of course it's not your fault that you couldn't interpret "reading on the couch" as "invitation to socialize." And of course people are clamoring to call your acontextual girlfriend immature and unrealistic. You're asking us to analyze a teeny fraction of your relationship and apply the conclusion to the entire whole. We don't have enough information to do that, frankly.

So instead of zeroing in on last night, look at the larger picture, and ask TPS's questions honestly. Report back to us when you've analyzed this from a less biased perspective.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:49 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

how I had ruined everything.

It will be helpful for you if you do not take this statement at face value. Clearly she felt bad and I'm in agreement with the other posters that this says more about her communication strategies than whatever it was that you were doing. That said, this is your situation to deal with and she may not change this approach so you can sort of examine it and figure out how to manage it.

- it's possible that she was just feeling touchy for some reason which made her less able to express her wishes and/or more sensitive to whatever was going on around her. This is something that you can both work on, maybe her letting you know when things are really important [clearly her wanting you to sit on the couch with her was important yet she didnt' express this - it's not your fault that you are not psychic, period]
- it's possible that there has been some sort of pattern of behavior that made her expect you to act one way and then be suprised when you acted another way. While it's good for you both to sort of share baseline expectations of what's going on, this needs adjustment and correction. So, for example, you clearly see her reading and you playing video games as "together time and it looks like she doesn't. neither of you is right (this is important) but it's a good idea if you can arrive at mutually understood definitions
- the asking permission thing is tricky. While some people literally may be so controlling that they want you to ask permission, most people I know in relationships sort of call this "touching base" As in "hey I'm gonna chill out and play video games for a while, you comfy reading and hanging out for a while?" If it's really together time you're having, then keeping each other in the loop of how you're feeling and what you're doing is a good idea. If you're doing your own thing, then it's not as important. Different couples have ddifferent ideas as to how often they sort of check in like this, but it's usually something that couples do somewhat.

The fact that it went wrong this time can make you feel like she's putting her foot down and saying "you must check in with me when you do the things you do in the house" but I really don't see it that way. There was a disconnect, it went badly, you have an opportunity to check in with each other to figure out how to make that sort of thing go differently next time.

So, to me personally -- a female who does enjoy a certain amount of "checking in" in my relationship -- I don't see this as a sign of something bigger, just more of a mid-course correction to hw you guys decide what to do during together time. If the checking in thing really rankles you, then yeah that might be a problem. On the other hand, I do think that the "ruined everything" statement is unfair and hyperbolic, then again it may just be one of those statements that came out of a really bad day that doesn't have a large degree of reflection of how your gf is really feeling.

As with many realtionship situations, you may need to make some compromises between being "right" [imo, you didn't ruin everything] and "solving the problem" [your gf felt bad and you might have been able to have made her feel better even if what you did wasn't strictly your fault] and to me strong relationships can navigate this minefield appropriately and hammer out good solutions for all involved. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 7:50 AM on February 2, 2009 [7 favorites]

not all women hate when their men play video games. not all women feel it's anti social. some of us are gamers, some of us enjoy watching video games we wouldn't enjoy playing, and some of us would find it bizarre if our significant others only played while we were sleeping in.
posted by nadawi at 7:54 AM on February 2, 2009 [11 favorites]

Playstation after 8 pm - never ever a good idea. After 8 you should be giving her all your attention. Basically playing video games instead of engaging her in talk or comfort just spells out dissing her. Ask her about it then post. You'll see I'm right on this.
posted by watercarrier at 7:55 AM on February 2, 2009

Talk about it with her again, when you're both relaxed. Say "Hey, I was worried about you the other night and I'd like to try to make sure it doesn't happen again - what did I do wrong? Tell her calmly and honestly how you felt about it. Ask her what she was feeling and listen to what she says.

Phrases to avoid (in my experience): "not a mind-reader", "passive-aggressive crap".
posted by WPW at 7:59 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Secondly, do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first?

If this is the way you phrase things when you talk to you girlfriend, then, yes, this incident is a sign of a bigger problem, and it isn't all with her. If this happened "the other night" and you still can't talk about it without getting a sarcastic, even when recounting it to random strangers on the internet, that doesn't bode well. She should have communicated better, but we all blow it sometimes. A little understanding on your part would go a long way.

In short: Dude, she wanted to read and was annoyed at the video game sounds. She should have said so, but it's not one of the seven signs of Romance Apocalypse that she didn't. You're going to both have to learn to give a little.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:59 AM on February 2, 2009 [7 favorites]

To me, what you've written here sounds like "something bigger". She wanted to spend a quiet evening with you. When you turned on the Playstation she took it as a sign that it, not she, was going to have your attention for the rest of the evening. Maybe she thinks that the playstation takes up too much of your attention at her expense?

It's different from watching TV because watching TV is a shared experience, you're participating equally and can chat about it. Reading books together is less shared, but you're enjoying the same activity and maybe she has a romantic idea of you two sitting around reading, sharing comments about your books and sparking conversation that way?

In your position I'd assume that my SO was fed up with me making myself unapproachable by focusing all my attention on a game instead of her, or at least doing something she can share in.

Obviously I don't know you or her so I have no idea whether these feelings would be justified. But when have people's emotions ever needed to have a rational, objectively-true basis?

(To paraphrase a deeply geeky quote: "The truth is a three-edged sword. There's what I saw, what you saw, and then there's what actually happened.")
posted by metaBugs at 8:01 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Video game noises are REALLY annoying to me, and my boyfriend and I used to fight about the volume he had the games at -- especially when it was a game like Grand Theft Auto or something else that had a lot of noise and/or violence. I solved a lot of problems by getting him wireless headphones he can use while he plays.
posted by jenfu at 8:06 AM on February 2, 2009

Several suggestions:

1. Position the tv and PS so that you're sitting near her while playing. When a level ends or there's some slow point in the game, pause it and rub or touch her leg or some other light physical touching and say "love ya babes" or "how ya doing" or something to show interest and affection for her.

1a. Invite her to play PS with you. Find a game or two you both like, something silly perhaps so it's not competitive.

2. Your post is angry, sarcastic and does poor job of communicating. While understandable, these are not good things to carry around in a relationship, especially when they're directed at your SO, who (and this is extremely important) is on your side and is supposed to have your back.

3. Obviously you two need to talk, but it needs to be done with the understanding that neither of you are wrong, but that miscommunication occurred and discuss what's the best way to fix. You two have a choice, spend time together and let it be fun or spend time together and be angry at each other for minor reasons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

She wanted to spend a quiet evening with you.

Sorry? Did she actually say this at some point, like when the OP walked out of the shower or when he turned the TV on? He turned on the PS and she then got up an walked out without saying a word. If she wanted to spend a 'quiet evening' then I have to ask why she couldn't have just said "hey why don't we just spend a quiet evening instead of playing video games"?? Is that so difficult, or is it too much to expect some kind of verbal notification of what one person expects from another?

You will note, from time-to-time in the relationship, that you are supposed to be clairvoyant. There is no defense.. Yeh, no shit. I've been happily married for 20+ plus years. Get used to it, because trust me this is fairly minor stuff (only half-joking there)
posted by 543DoublePlay at 8:16 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

No woman needs to compete with a machine. If your priority is your machine over your girlfriend you need to step away from the relationship and spare the poor girl further grief.
posted by watercarrier at 8:17 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

[n]thing what people have said with the following caveats.

People get upset over all sorts of little stuff. It doesn't make her moody or irrational or a woman. She had an idea of what would happen; the opposite happened & it upset her. This happens all the time in a large percentage of relationships. Communicate and move on.

Also - Playstation II??!? No wonder she's upset. Get yourself a PS3 or Xbox360. You may as well be wandering round town with her wearing plus fours, deerstalker and a handlebar moustache whilst listening to Flannigan and Allen on the phonograph.
posted by seanyboy at 8:20 AM on February 2, 2009 [15 favorites]

Secondly, do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first?

I wanted to pick up on this as well, because the answer is no, but you do have to ask 'do you mind if...?' and be prepared to take yes for an answer.

As much as people need to communicate their needs in a relationship, they also need to be able to feel free to do so, in the expectation that they will be listened to and respected. Casting someone into the role of nagging mother (which is exactly what your phrasing suggests) really, really isn't the way to go about it.
posted by tallus at 8:23 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

watercarrier - lets turn your response around a little "no man needs to compete with a book. if your priority is your book over your boyfriend you need to step away from the relationship and spare the poor guy further grief."

now, doesn't that sound ridiculous?
posted by nadawi at 8:23 AM on February 2, 2009 [20 favorites]

Sounds like an incident that seems belies a bigger issue. I could be way off on this, but perhaps she was hoping for some sexy time and you were oblivious and started playing video games, which in her mind translated to "oh no he'd rather play video games than have sex with me." Do you play video games a lot? Like, she goes to bed and you stay up for a couple more hours playing? and therefore you don't have sex much anymore?

I could be totally wrong on this, and obviously she needs to work on her communication skills, but it seems to me that the bigger issue is that she thinks you'd rather play video games than interact with her. My advice is to not pull the "but you were reading a book!" and have a discussion in which you just ask her to be more vocal with you in the future. And for the time being, stick to playing video games when she's not home or not in the same room with you.
posted by emd3737 at 8:27 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Playstation after 8 pm - never ever a good idea. After 8 you should be giving her all your attention. Basically playing video games instead of engaging her in talk or comfort just spells out dissing her. Ask her about it then post. You'll see I'm right on this.

Please don't make blanket statements like this that aren't true for huge swaths of the population. If I asked most of my exes if they thought I should kill my gaming at 8pm sharp and turn all of my attention to them, they'd give me a strange look, and then unpause the game.

For that matter, if I ever find myself with someone who believes that after some point in the evening, I'm always and automatically required to devote all of my attention to her and drop whatever else I'm doing, I'll consider that a good sign that I'm in the wrong relationship.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:28 AM on February 2, 2009 [8 favorites]

you do have to ask 'do you mind if...?' and be prepared to take yes for an answer.

More realistically, if you ask 'do you mind if...?' - be prepared to take "no" for an answer, and then have the episode otherwise still play out exactly as you described it.
posted by cashman at 8:29 AM on February 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

1. This isn't about gender. Jesus, can't people have their sexist-filter on before typing questions?

2. She should have been straightforward with you. Tell her so for future reference, gently.

3. Do you spend hours upon hours playing games, perhaps bypassing some precious time together?

4. This isn't about gender.

Also: have her join the game. If she hates killing/shooter games (I understand), you can find a game you both like. For me and my boyfriend, it meant we ended up playing a lot of Tomb Raider together.
posted by Sijeka at 8:33 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think this is a sign of something bigger: Both of you are not communicating with each other. Instead of telling you what she wanted, she sulked. Instead of you telling her what you wanted, you asked us for validation.

No, you don't have to ask permission. You should communicate, though. "I'd like to spend the evening playing with my Playstation. What would you like to do this evening?"
posted by Houstonian at 8:38 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Reading your post, if it had been 2 years ago, I would have wondered if you were my fiance...

Walking out, your girlfriend probably showed an obvious sign you had been missing. It's not this one time that sparked her behaviour I think, but a chain of events that went to boiling point that evening. So yes, she probably has been expecting you to read her mind for quite some time... except she probably dropped you hints that were not-so-subtle according to her, and cryptic according to you. You guys need to talk about it. It IS hard to just bluntly say things sometimes (from my perspective and maybe from hers), dropping hints is much easier. Yes, it's partly her fault, but you must be two to solve the problem.

This still happens once in a while with me and my fiance, though we talk about it and usually sort it out easily. None of us gets down to the point (mostly) where we can't take it anymore before we start talking about what the problem is.
And it does lead once in a while to those amusing conversations where 'Is this one of those times when I'm waiting for you by doing x and you're waiting for me by doing y?' ends a misunderstanding.

Oh, and your comment about 'asking permission': I'd never use those terms with your girlfriend, unless you want her to feel more pissed that you could be when saying it and showing her you value her less than your play time/a toy. Offering to play with her, on the other hand, would be much more productive and who knows? You both might just find pleasure in it.
posted by tweemy at 8:39 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Playstation after 8 pm - never ever a good idea. After 8 you should be giving her all your attention. Basically playing video games instead of engaging her in talk or comfort just spells out dissing her. Ask her about it then post. You'll see I'm right on this.
posted by watercarrier at 7:55 AM on February 2 [+] [!]

No woman needs to compete with a machine. If your priority is your machine over your girlfriend you need to step away from the relationship and spare the poor girl further grief.
posted by watercarrier at 8:17 AM on February 2 [+] [!]

watercarrier, I don't think this is very constructive. If my wife told me that I was never to play video games after 20h and that I was to lavish all my attention on her, it would lead to a very serious fight. There are some days where yes, after our daughter goes to bed, it is OUR time. We watch TV or a movie, play Scrabble, or sit up in bed reading our books. However, there are days where it is MY time; I get to play video games, or paint miniatures, or whatever; and my wife gets to do what SHE wants. Are there some days where I wanted to play video games and instead spent time with my wife? Of course. However I can tell you there are days where my wife plunked herself on the couch with a book and a very clear message "My book, my time, you go away. :P (said nicely of course)"

Anyways, the point is that there exists a balance between ME time and OUR time which is very important, and if my wife insisted that I could no longer have ME time then our relationship would be in serious jeopardy. In this case I think that the OP is faced with one of two situations:
1- She wanted to read but found the video game noises irritating, and thus insulting. OR
2- She wanted to spend time with him, and was reading her book waiting for him to ask her.

In both cases the OP needs to talk to her, I don't think the situation is as dire as it may have seemed at the time of the tears.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:40 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite things to do with my boyfriend is watch him play video games, no lie. I have sometimes pestered him to fire up a game so I can watch. So I kind of take issue with the "why girls be frontin and why don't they understand the relationship between a man and his sweet video games?" undertone here.

Anywho. This isn't a video game issue, it's a communication/expectations issue. In relationships, especially, you can't expect to get what you don't ask for. She was wrong to silently expect something from you and then get all het up when you chose to do something else, but it's the same kind of wrong as not talking to her about the incident and assuming you can figure this out on your own. She got upset for whatever reason and you're not sure why, so go talk to her about it and see if you both can't figure this out.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:44 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have no idea why people are making assumptions about video games, your home environment, or whether this has something to do with anything.

Drop the attitude about it -- you don't have to ask permission to do things although it'd be nice if she was reading and you're going to do something noisy. Likewise, she doesn't have the right to snap at you because you can't determine what she wants.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows what they want at all times, or even how to articulate that well. Maybe she was tired, maybe her hormones are off, maybe she has a rough week coming up at work or school, or maybe you did something earlier in the day to piss her off and she doesn't know how to launch into that discussion.

People are going to act in ways that seem somewhat irrational occasionally. Deal with it, be polite, and if you're lucky they do the same for you. Communication is good, but no one is going to be an amazing person all of the time.
posted by mikeh at 8:45 AM on February 2, 2009

It's a lot easier to interrupt quiet reading -- few people expect to finish an entire book in one sitting -- than to interrupt a very engaging game; most people expect to play through the entire game.

This is one of those things where "social skills" that some people take for granted (including a lot of females) are so important for navigating smoothly.

Factors that go into determining the most considerate course you could have taken include:

- How long have you two been together?

- Does she get to spend many evenings with you?

- How is her life going? Is she likely to want comfort?

- Have you talked about what your evening together should be like?

She could have asked you about your expectations; you could have asked her about hers. If at least one person in the relationship is clever and thoughtful enough (and maybe secure enough) to actually ask these questions, it really can help avoid these situations. As has been noted above, just a simple check in is really helpful.

Level 2 on the social skills scale would be learning to a) read non-verbal signals really well, and b) know the other person well enough to know what they _usually_ want in a given situation. But then you have to know when to generalize a "given situation", and when a situation is subtly different -- trickier than most realize.

I'm definitely a geeky girl, and have had to consciously work on understanding all this. I've taken psychology classes to that end, and it's helped. People tend to assume that "everyone knows that" and it's just not true; actually, I think socioeconomic status (and a jillion other factors) plays into this too.

So, please, know that there is something here to learn, and it's a pursuit to be taken seriously.
posted by amtho at 8:45 AM on February 2, 2009

Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. It isn't always as easy as just asking the questions. You have to explore the broader issues in the relationship, what each of you wants for it and from life and you have to develop a communication style that works for you. It's too hard to tell from just this one incident whether this is a big deal for your relationship or just one of those things we all experience every now and then.

If she really hates the video game I suggest that you respect her wishes and seek an equitable compromise. In many instances playing a video game can effectively shut down communication and make it seem like you are not paying any attention to her. Yes, I know the book is similar, but perhaps it was more of a prop than an engrossing reading. She may have still felt that she was going to chat with you while reading. She could look up and into your face, but then you are not even looking at her you are staring at the game even if you are talking to her. I don't know if this was the issue, just surmising.
posted by caddis at 8:46 AM on February 2, 2009

What emd3737 and some others hinted at with the "after 8 pm y'all should be focusing on each other" stuff, plus all the comments about how sarcastic and biased your post reads. You're obviously really annoyed, and communication is the only answer. I know personally when I get annoyed in that way it has nothing to do with video games or whatever, it has to do with the feeling we had gone through all the un-fun chores and motions of the day together so we could unwind and maybe make out and have fun together. When it doesn't happen I do get sad and resentful. Everyone is right that she needs to learn to be able to trust she can openly say that to you, but there also needs to be sensitivity on your you think the viewpoint mentioned above sounds like it could be what she was thinking? If so, bring it up--not defensively or coldly or sarcastically, but in a friendly and loving manner. I mean come on. If it was about making out wouldn't you be glad it was?? I used to try to set the wheels in motion gently by doing something in bed or on the couch that could easily be put aside while I waited for him to come in and we could start. It makes sense that the reading while waiting thing gets misread...but yeah. Just consider it a possibility.

Not digging the sexist "oh those shrewish women, wanting you to read their minds and not have any fun with your toys" comments. "No offense" type caveats don't fix them either.
posted by ifjuly at 8:49 AM on February 2, 2009

Both of you could have handled this better: You should have asked if your video game noise would bother/distract her from her book. (Personally, I can easily tune out TV or radio noise, but have a very hard time tuning out video game noise because it lacks the predictable pattern of TV dialogue; perhaps she has the same issue.) She should have told you in words what she wanted.

You do not need to ask permission like a child, but you do need to treat your partner with respect and deference (i.e., ask her before you turn on the game system if she minds the extra noise). She does not need to share your interest in video games and is within her rights to leave the room while you play the game, but she should respectfully and clearly state her preferences and feelings instead of sullenly expecting you to read her mind.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:54 AM on February 2, 2009

She was probably just grumpy. Honestly. Everyone has moments like this. It's nothing to do with male vs. female, and it's not even exclusive to romantic relationships. I had almost this same conversation with my husband yesterday, with me in your position and him in hers. Have you never found yourself annoyed at someone for not doing something you thought they should, or you expected them to do for some reason, even when you hadn't explicitly told them so?

Just talk to her. Frame it in terms of concern. She'll probably be a little embarrassed, admit to being grumpy, and tell you what she actually wanted to happen/would like to happen in these situations.

If this is happening over and over, then you (as a couple) probably have communication issues, and/or, one or both of you are suffering from some unpleasant mood swings. But one instance? It's just a little grumpiness. A little moment of human imperfection. Expect more.

And skip things like this:
do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first?
It'll make you sound like the hormonal one.
posted by lampoil at 8:57 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing that this isn't about gender -- I run into similar problems with my boyfriend, as well as another male friend of mine. Men aren't the only ones expected to be clairvoyant in relationships.

You and her need to talk about the time you spend together. I wouldn't tell her that the internet says so, though.
posted by mismatched at 9:00 AM on February 2, 2009

I'm with many of the people above - I used to be so hurt that my bf seemed not to notice I was around (he was a PC gamer, Everquest, WoW and the like) and would often just go to bed and cry myself to sleep because I felt lonely. It wasn't until a while after I broke up with him that I realized it was really my responsibility - he had no way to know that I wanted something from him if I didn't ask.

I would suggest talking to your gf about it - I think it can help to hear "hey, I honestly didn't know that you wanted something else from me, but I got the impression that you did." Using "I need" language can help it be less confrontational - like "I need for you to tell me directly when you need something from me. I understand that this can feel to you like something you don't want to/shouldn't have to do - you might want me to know what you need or to give you more attention without asking. But in order for me to be able to do that, I have to learn more about what you need, and I can't do that unless you start off by telling me up front." I was surprised the first time I realized he probably honestly didn't know how unhappy I was - and then I was embarrassed for not thinking of it sooner.
posted by mccn at 9:19 AM on February 2, 2009

Resist the typical guy response to these situations which is, frankly, to shove one's head further up one's own ass by trying to prove how one's behavior is proper and blameless and being utterly baffled beyond that. Acting like the only difference between playing a videogame and watching TV is that you are in control of the videogame is totally head-shoving behavior.
posted by fleacircus at 9:29 AM on February 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

IMO this is the range of "things you can do right by someone who is reading" rated by level of rudeness:

read a book, be on laptop, do crafts or knitting, pc games in the other room, (now you're getting to mild-rude:) vaccuum, watch tv, music, (now rude:) video games, searching for metal under the couch cushions, game of beer pong

Yeah, your girl got a bit snippy, but she was there first, and I'm guessing by her reaction you don't use headphones. Don't escalate by being a sarcastic douchebag--you didn't even ask to do your possibly distracting activity right in front of her before doing it. Think of it like this: would you want her setting up band practice in the living room while you were trying to level your WoW character? Probably not.
posted by shownomercy at 9:30 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree that this isn't necessarily a gender thing--Jessamyn's description of "checking in" is pretty spot-on. Personally--and maybe this is just the way I was raised--I would find it very rude if someone I lived with, especially someone I had just had dinner with or had otherwise been spending the evening with, came into the room I was in and just starting doing their own thing without saying "hey" or "I think I'm going to play video games for a bit" or any other sort of greeting. People can reasonably disagree about the rudeness/not-rudeness of this, but if your girlfriend is the type of person who finds that a bit obnoxious, you should probably keep that in mind in your future interactions with her. In the grand scheme of things, making an effort on little civilities like that seems to be a pretty cheap investment in keeping a relationship healthy.

Of course, she should have spoken up when she got annoyed, rather than flouncing off to the bedroom and expecting you to come chasing after her. That's not a terribly mature response. However, she's not the one here asking for advice, so I'll just point out that it doesn't seem like she's the only one who expects her partner to be a mind reader:

Since she just kept on reading while I was sitting on the lounge, I assumed she was content to keep on reading... After I had been playing for about 3 mins, she went into the bedroom. I assumed to go to the bathroom in our ensuite.

Did you really finish dinner, go take a shower, then not say a word to her when you came back out? I think it's a bit unfair for you to expect that you [the general "you"] should be able to do whatever you feel like in a relationship and put all the burden on your partner to raise objections if it bugs her, rather than taking on some responsibility yourself to check in and make sure that everyone's okay with with what you're planning. Ideally, both of you would be making an effort to do at least the bare minimum of checking in ("I think I'm going to do X tonight") and both of you would also rely on being an adult and speaking up if things aren't going the way that you had hoped. That way, if one of the two fails, you still don't end up in a fight.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:37 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

it's funny - i knew it wouldn't take long for the women to rush in here and cry sexism, but to me the sexism in this thread is girls against boys, not boys against girls.

she was occupying herself, reading a book. he was occupying himself. in no way did she indicate in their conversation that the noise level of the game was interrupting her reading. she in fact said she was "looking forward to sitting on then lounge with me for a quiet evening and how I had ruined everything". again, lets turn some things around - the do chores all evening, she goes and takes a shower. she comes out and he is reading a book. she frets about for a few minutes, flipping through channels and then turns on a video game so the tv doesn't distract him (because for many the tv is more distracting than video games). after 5 minutes of that she storms off and in the ensuing fight she says "i just wanted to spend some time with you and you couldn't even take your nose out of the book to be interested for a millisecond in what i was doing". i bet the same people would be telling him he's obviously sexist, ignoring his woman, not fucking her enough, and generally being an oaf.

part of this smacks of the same type of gal that thinks porn is cheating (or they guy who feels threatened if his gal is on the computer for too long). it's the idea that all of your time and attention should be focused on your partner and that none of your brainspace is yours any longer. it's the idea that if you are doing something for or about you that you're somehow stealing something from them. it's bullshit and hurtful and damaging.

there's a lot of good advice in this thread about recontextualizing your sarcasm and frustration and coming to a middle point you both can be happy with without blame or tears. if this relationship is worth it to you, take that advice. if she pulls this shit all the time (the silent, ignoring treatment followed by tears and accusations) find a gamer girl and let her torture someone else.
posted by nadawi at 9:47 AM on February 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

@ iminurmefi - but isn't it also very rude for her to have not said a word to him after his shower? if i walked into a room and my partner was reading and didn't even look up at me or speak to me i'd assume the book was terribly engrossing and they'd talk when they reached a paragraph break or whatever.
posted by nadawi at 9:51 AM on February 2, 2009

How often do you hang out with the Playstation? Because if you check out 3 nights a week and all day Saturday, she got a gripe. She should have expressed it better, but it's still legit. From your title, it seems as though this may be an ongoing issue.

Also, Playstation and TV are different. she had the option of watching TV with you or chatting during commercials. When you're involved in your video game, you are completely unavailable to her. Everyone is harping about the fact that she didn't tell you what she wanted (agreed), but you also didn't ask. Maybe she was finishing her chapter while you showered. You could have avoid this problem (and many, many more in the future) by simply asking. It's not asking permission, it's having a little consideration for your partner.

Last point, it sounds like you are living with this woman. Man up and ask her what's wrong. Don't approach it with a pissy attitude as in "I knew I was in trouble for something. I can't see I did anything I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old." In the future, the time for this conversation is when it happens. When your girlfriend is in tears, that's a good time to focus on the relationship enough to uncover the problem. Don't let arguments fester for days. Now, you've got a week of ill will and worrying to undo.
posted by 26.2 at 9:52 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Playstation and TV are different, but I would say that a games console requires no more or less attention than a book. These are solitary activities, not spectator sports, and both require some concentration (and can be absorbing) so an interruption might be istarcting at a possibly crucial moment, but not the end of the world. A PS2 should send no more of a go-away vibe than picking up a book; if that vibe is sent, there's maybe a problem.

And: yes, headphones, for heaven's sake get headphones.
posted by WPW at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2009

This has nothing to do with you playing video games.

I assume you've done this dozens of times before, but for some reason, this time it's different. There's "something" bothering her that evening. Who knows what it is - and it's easier to point a finger at the clearest and most superficial evidence of that "something" - you playing a video game.

I surmise that she would even blew the pot without you firing up the PS. If you were just watching TV, say, focused on a basketball game, engrossed in Biggest Loser, cheering for Hiro in 'Heros', I think she would still blew her top.

I would suggest that after all of this blows over, bringing it up. I mean bringing it up at time when you both are out of the house and she's in a great mood. Great mood like when you two went-to-the-carnival-and-you-were-playing-that-game-where-you-have-to-climb-the-rope-ladder-across-the-moat-to-ring-the-bell-and-win-her-a-giant-pink-teddy-bear-she-carries-around-for-the-next-hour happy. After she's been carrying that teddy bear, buy her a funnel cake and just suggest almost telepathically as if you haven't been think about it for 3 weeks "so what was up with that night you were crying when I was playing Sonic the Hedgehog?"

She'll open up and let you know what bothered her, why at THAT moment, what to do in the future, and (if it all goes well) as YOU what you think.

That's how they do it in the movies.
posted by spoons at 10:13 AM on February 2, 2009

Also, Playstation and TV are different. she had the option of watching TV with you or chatting during commercials.

This is incorrect. My wife has sit and talked with me while I've played video games. These conversations can range from the usual couples stuff to me explaining the game to her and pointing out advances in technology and game play (she used to play Doom), along ma LEET SKILLZ.

Granted, sometimes I just really want to play the game, at which point I'll say "Honey, I really need to save the universe by killing all the alien invading hordes, can I catch up with you later?" to which she either says "Sure" or "Can we talk now?" In those situations, turn the game off and pay attention to her (ok, pause it and turn off the tv, so you don't lose your place, yet are giving her a signal that your attention is focused on her rather than that trap on level 12 what you've almost figured out).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2009

[a few comments removed - please keep comments constructive and not fighty with the OP or other commenters, or there's always MetaTalk, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:37 AM on February 2, 2009

She may be guilty of failing to communicate effectively... but you need to do a self-check as well and figure out if you've been guilty of failing to listen. I sometimes tell my husband things very carefully and specifically, trying to make sure that he is really processing what I say, even asking, "do understand what I'm saying? are we agreed about this?" - and then later it's as if that conversation never happened. As if I'm crazy lady for being upset about something. Of course we've been together for a hundred million years, so we don't even really get upset when we get upset... I know he's going to completely zone out some things that I've taken pains to make clear, and he knows I'm going to get "mysteriously" exasperated at some point because of something that he was supposed to do/not do.

Talk it out.
posted by taz at 10:41 AM on February 2, 2009

Wireless Headphones are totally responsible for the continued success of my marriage. I love video games! My wife does not. I always ask before I sit down to play and always use headphones if it's just us. You may have been totally innocent, but maybe she was really enjoying the peace and quiet of a videogame-less reading hour.
posted by GilloD at 10:45 AM on February 2, 2009

Just in case it is about gender, maybe she thinks you were in your cave when her wave was crashing?
posted by peagood at 10:49 AM on February 2, 2009

Were you really intending on only playing for 1/2 hour? Do you ever only play for 1/2 hour? Do you scream at the game? Does it piss you off when you lose? Do you often play past when your girlfriend goes to bed?

I like playing video games, and I've been married to and dated guys that also like to play them. That being said, I've been in the situation in which I've been invited over to a guy's house that I've been dating - to "play video games" - and then realized that was exactly all he meant - we were going to play games for at least 5 hours and then I was going to pass out and he would play some more (with the sound NOT turned down!).

While I realize that this says far more about the quality of guys I've chosen to date - there are actually degrees of this going on in homes all over the world. You need to realize that 1/2 hour in game world is about 5 minutes subjective time to you - to your girlfriend, it may feel like an hour. Also realize that many of us have tried to interrupt our guys while they game in order to get a little "quality time," and have been treated with annoyance at best.

Be honest with yourself and take a look at your behavior while you game - it may give you a hint as to why your girlfriend was upset.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:58 AM on February 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

If she was reading a book, how was time spent with you watching TV going to be any different than time spent with you gaming? Reading sends out an anti-social vibe too. Sounds to me like she has issues with the gaming.
posted by agentwills at 10:59 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

For those saying this isn't about gender, can you REALLY see the roles reversed in this one? Guy reading quietly, girl comes in, does something else (not necessarily videogames - let's remove that from the equation), guys gets suddenly and unaccountably steamed and huffs off, saying nothing more than "good night" in a cold tone, clearly implying that the girl has done something wrong.

Maybe it's just me, but with the genders reversed I just don't see it happening.

That's pretty much the definition of gender-based, isn't it?
posted by Aquaman at 11:20 AM on February 2, 2009

aquaman - a few people upthread has said their male partner has acted like the lady in this question. i've also been on the receiving end of a silent tantrum from exboyfriends. it doesn't take a vagina to be emotionally irrational.
posted by nadawi at 11:28 AM on February 2, 2009

Aquaman, no - sometimes men aren't emotionally expressive enough to articulate why they are angry. I'd wager that there are more than a few men who retire to their garage or workshop when they are steamed.

Men and women both exhibit the full range of rational and irrational behaviors in relationships. Ain't love grand?
posted by 26.2 at 11:43 AM on February 2, 2009

OK, point taken. I'm in no way saying that guys aren't equally as bad or worse at communicating, and the retreating to the workshop behaviour is a great analogue, so fair enough.

Without valuing the behaviour in this situation at all, it still seems more of a "girl" thing to me, though. The girl waiting for the guy to know what the girl is thinking, and getting mad when he doesn't, I mean.

I guess I just want to see if it's still possible to agree that there are some more-or-less "gender-biased" behaviours without getting all WOMYN!/DUDEZ! about it.
posted by Aquaman at 11:49 AM on February 2, 2009

My spouse considers it anti-social for me to be on my laptop or reading when he is in the room, and will get very irate about it. Sometimes.

And when he shushes me because he is on the computer or watching his favorite TV show, which to me is also anti-social (especially since, for fuck's sake, we are Tivo'ing it anyway), I get irritated as well. Sometimes.

And then there are other times we sit companionably side-by-side, each happily typing away on our laptops, or him watching TV while I read a book.

The only difference between the anti-social rants and the companionable silence is the mood we each happen to be in at the time. Clairvoyance goes both ways--sometimes women have to read our partners' minds too--and if that seems unhelpful, rest assured that if you do stay together you will get a better sense of her moods, as she will of yours.

And the key to it all is good communication.

If your girlfriend has never told you that she wants some quiet time together in the evening and she would prefer you not turn on your game, I don't blame you for being mystified.

But don't let this devolve into a fight over who is right and who is wrong. Read Mil Millington for a great perspective on just how crazy that gets.

Instead, sit her down, let her know that you hate to see her so upset, and ask her to let you know the next time she feels unappreciated, right away, so the two of you can do something about it.

While you're at it, suggest some ground rules. Maybe you want to check in, as jessamyn suggests, or agree to not bring out the book or start the game at a certain time--it's up to you. The purpose is to keep from having the same argument over and over again.
posted by misha at 11:58 AM on February 2, 2009

As a gamer, I have to say that it is incumbent upon us all to rehabilitate the reputation of video games. We must be considerate of others. That said, we need not sacrifice our hobby completely to the multi-headed god of interpersonal relationships.

Considerations include time, place and manner. Are you playing at an appropriate time? (Blowing up aliens before bed seems perfectly acceptable to me! During a wedding reception - maybe not.) Are you playing your games in a location that is socially acceptable? (At home on the couch is ALWAYS an acceptable answer to this question. It is your couch. And often, these things are immovable - an important fact, especially in this scenario, since books are highly portable while game systems are not.) And are you entertaining other considerations? Is your girlfriend epileptic and prone to seizures based on the rapid fire graphics of your Space Invaders game? Is she sensitive to loud noises? Do you have neighbors that may be uninterested in hearing you yell "HEAD SHOT!" every time you get one?

If you are being a considerate gamer (which is not completely indicated by your question), then it is time for your girlfriend to get with the program or take a hike.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:21 PM on February 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

I can imagine acting the way your girlfriend acted. But only in certain situations: if the events you described have previously led to huge fights, then her behavior makes perfect sense.

So, let's say you guys have fought about this before. She has been angry in the past about the amount of time you spend playing video games, you have responded with anger at her claims, and this has led to painful shouting matches that leave you both upset. This is my assumption. So, with this assumption in place, we can re-consider the events this recent night. You spend a day doing chores. She's content, and just expects that, after your shower, you two will continue to spend time together. This idea makes her happy. Then, you come back into the room and, without even asking, turn on the PS. Now she's not happy. She wants to say something -- maybe, "I thought we'd spend time together tonight," or maybe, "Could you maybe turn that off so we can just hang out?" or something.. But anything she says will lead to another horrible fight. She can't say anything without it resulting in a fight. So, instead, she stews. The longer it goes on, the more upset she's getting because there's nothing she can say, nothing she can do, that will allow her to express how disappointed she is without getting you angry. So finally she just ends up so upset and angry and frustrated that she leaves in a huff and starts crying off on her own.

This is just my guess. But is my guess accurate? Have there been fights in the past? Have you guys had disagreements about how you spend your time before? If so, realize how your behavior last night fits into a longer narrative. Realize how her anger was spurned, not by some single event, but a long chain of events that have left her frustrated and angry. And then, when you've realized that, stop trying so hard to make yourself sound like an innocent victim. Work instead on trying to understand her side of events. Talk to her about it, being careful to make sure your point of view is presented but without refusing to pay attention to hers. Communicate with her, clearly and calmly, about what happened. If this is the correct way to interpret what happened, then there is a serious problem in your relationship: the two of you do not communicate your emotional needs to each other properly. Fortunately, that's a problem that the two of you, if you work together, can fix.

But if my guess is not accurate, pay attention to the fact that your post was worded so strangely that I felt it necessary to make such a guess. Your post just doesn't make your girlfriend sound human. She sounds completely incomprehensible. And, despite what some of the previous posters have claimed, being female does not make a person irrational and overwhelmingly moody. You've presented your girlfriend as some sort of emotional enigma, and this means that you either are so angry that you refuse to accurately present her point of view or that you just don't understand it. Either way, you should work harder to come to grasp her point of view.

...There's one last option, but I don't think it's likely. The last possibility is that everything did occur exactly as you presented it, that her behavior really is exactly as incomprehensible as you make it sound, and that you really are an innocent victim here. (I don't find this likely, given your angry lines about having to ask for permission to play a game, and so forth... but, hey, it's possible.) If that's the case, then why have you been with this woman for as long as you have, that you share a bedroom? Of course it's a sign of something much worse, if she's an emotional, moody, passive-aggressive, irrational beast as you've presented her. DTMFA, if she is, and be glad you escaped before it got worse. (But, again... I find it hard to take this interpretation of your question seriously.)
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:31 PM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

First of all You did nothing wrong and do not apologize, if you do you are setting your self up because apologizing MAY give her the idea that you knew that it was wrong and you did it any way. It is not fair for you to feel sorry for something that was not your fault.

Second we ladies sometimes need to just cry. I cry at the drop of a hat, not that anything is wrong but because it feels good and releases endorphins. But sometimes I forget that I'm crying just because and I find someone (usually my boyfriend) or something to blame.

And third I am a 28 year old woman and I love video games, we have 3 game systems in our house, the living room television is hooked up to the pc so all the computer games are played there as well, and I live not only with my boyfriend but we have a male roommate. Most times when I know my boyfriend is going to play (especially team fortes II tournament games) I will find a task I know will take up a few hours and keep me in one spot , like braiding my hair for instance takes 12 hours broken up into two days, so I will use the first 3 hours as an excuse to sit on the couch with him while watching him play and being his second pair of eyes for when those sneaky spies come out of the left of the screen and his eyes are on the sniper. But on other days when I am not in the mood for explosions and gun fire I will take a book and go read in the other room or call my sister and see if she is up for company or just ask him to turn it down.

I think a lot of woman are on some level are still stuck in the notion that loud video games are for boys and quiet things are for girls boys should understand that girls need quiet time, and weather we notice it or not that becomes part of the problem. I am well aware of that fact that my boyfriend is a boy and I find ways to use our sexual differences to become closer by sharing in activities so we can understand each other better. Ask her if she would like to learn to play some of your PS games and find out what books she likes see if that helps.
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 12:37 PM on February 2, 2009

Dude! This happens to me all the time. I'm a girl, in a relationship with a girl and we both think the other should be able to read minds. We have learned not to get mad until we have clearly requested a different behavior from the other person. Make a deal with your gf about how to communicate needs to each other. Don't make it all about her and this one irrational evening. Make it about both of you and about communication. Figuring out how to better express her needs before she gets angry won't keep this from ever happening again, but it'll help. Keep in mind that sometimes she is going to ask you not to turn on the playstation (in my house it's metafilter and facebook) and you're going to think the request is unfair or irrational. That's when you have to decide, "okay - what's more important? 30 minutes of Halo, or my gf's emotions?"

BTW - wait a couple of days to open up the disscussion, just in case she is hormonal. The conversation will be more productive if she doesn't feel all defensive.

In my experience, I don't think you need to ask for permission. It's the person with the expectaion or emotional need whose job it is to express themselves.

Also, as long as you guys use this a chance to improve communication, I don't think it's a sign of a big bad relationship problem.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:47 PM on February 2, 2009

Wow, this question really stuck the collective nerve!

As others have said communication is the key. From your description, it was clearly lacking in this situation. I think it's difficult to say too much more about what might be going on here with the few details you provided.

But, as to this...Secondly, do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first?

In my house shared space is just that, shared. If myself or Mr. cbp want to do something that is going to possibly be disruptive in our shared area we will check with the other person to make sure it's not a problem. Neither of us see it as asking permission, it's more being respectful of the other person sharing the space. Granted this has come about from 10 years of trial and error.
posted by cbp at 1:54 PM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

there was one more point I wanted to make. I for got about your last comment Secondly, do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first?, I can see why some people see that as harsh and yes it was but you were upset because you were being accused of ruining a quiet evening when you did no such thing and that would make any one upset. I'm not saying it is OK to say things like that, I'm just pointing out that your girlfriends passive aggression is not helpful. Her feelings were hurt (not by you but by the idea of things not going her way) and then your feelings were hurt (not by her comment but by the confusion over the whole situation.

every one in a relation ship can benefit from remembering that YOUR feelings are YOUR OWN and no one can hurt them for you. Take responsibility\y for what happens with in your own head and heart and communicate how you feel as often as possible.
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 1:58 PM on February 2, 2009

Personally--and maybe this is just the way I was raised--I would find it very rude if someone I lived with, especially someone I had just had dinner with or had otherwise been spending the evening with, came into the room I was in and just starting doing their own thing without saying "hey" or "I think I'm going to play video games for a bit" or any other sort of greeting.

I don't think the girlfriend's irritation itself is the issue. It's her failure to express her desires clearly and maturely. We all do this occasionally, and it's not a gender thing, despite the stereotype - guys pull this shit too. I often wonder if the stereotype of the simple, straightforward male who's befuddled by his ball-of-crazy wife exists because guys are expected to be more rational, and therefore able to better disguise their behavior as such.

As others have pointed out, context is important. Is this part of a pattern of communication problems? You can't change her, and you can't read her mind, but the best way to set a precedent for mature communication is to communicate maturely and clearly yourself. You might think you do (after all, you're just a simple ole guy) but you probably don't because most of us don't. This - Secondly, do I now have to ask permission to spend 30 mins on a Playstation like I was a 7 year old only to be told I have to finish my homework first? - is not mature. In fact, I believe that's what they call a straw man. If you're not playing fair yourself, you're just reinforcing the dramaworks as the preferred mode of communication.

Relevant (but kind of harsh).
posted by granted at 2:51 PM on February 2, 2009

(not necessarily videogames - let's remove that from the equation)

Actually, just to clarify (I know you followed up Aquaman), when I said I had the same conversation with my husband, I meant that me playing video games was the catalyst for our little squabble.
posted by lampoil at 4:32 PM on February 2, 2009

All you have to do is invite her. Not ask permission. She was watchingtvwithyouandreadingabook.

"hey, wanna playstation?"

Done. Off the hook.

PS - if this is a big deal situation in your relationship, congratulations!!! You've got a good one.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 6:11 PM on February 2, 2009

Yeah, there are many times in my relationships when my spidey sense screams "It's a TRAP!" like Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi. There is usually no way to preempt these problems, but the only to 'solve' them is to talk to her. Many have stressed the communication aspect (and they're right,) but know that this will happen again regardless.

Remember, it is much better to let small stuff like this just slide off your back and approach it with little to no emotion. If you are still angry, hold off until you aren't. Best of luck.
posted by schyler523 at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2009

... What I find the most alarming here is not the temper tantrum in itself (everyone, girls/guys, all over reacted once in a while due to external factors) but the tearful statement that she was looking forward to sitting on the lounge with you for a quiet evening and how you had ruined everything....

Wow... manipulation on a pretty creepy level. If you've seen that even once before...go while you can.

Sorry if that seems harsh but that's a learned behavior that is unlikely to change.
posted by Weaslegirl at 1:37 PM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Wow... manipulation on a pretty creepy level. If you've seen that even once before...go while you can.

Sorry if that seems harsh but that's a learned behavior that is unlikely to change.

Yes I feel you on that, but change is possible. Like I said in my previous comment I lash out on my boyfriend, but I choose my words carefully, things like "I'm in a shitty mood for no good reason so please leave me alone for a while", I make it a point to reassure my boyfriend that my feelings are my own and sometimes I need time to get them sorted. But I did not always feel that way. I used to blame all my previous relationship problems on the other person, I felt is was there responsibility to keep me happy. She just needs to assert her self, be confident in her own feelings and express them no matter how sad they may be and realize that he is not there to make her happy, he is there to be a part of it.

(pardon my bad punctuation)
posted by SheMulp AKA Plus 1 at 4:17 PM on February 4, 2009

.. I guess it's growth... if she's young then perhaps that could be in the cards. In my experience it's just pretty rare.

I appreciate your balance in this however, and concede that while it is very difficult, if someone wants to make those changes they certainly can.

I agree entirely with your final statement 'he is not there to make her happy, he is there to be a part of it'. There in lies the difficulty as so many of us are looking externally for that rather than to ourselves. It's tough to do even when we know it.
posted by Weaslegirl at 5:04 PM on February 5, 2009

Not much to add here, except it sounds like you both ended up tantrummy (is that a word?) and not your most-mature selves. If it's not a pattern, don't overthink this.

DH and I are both gamers...I'm more of a WoW person, he's more of an XBox person. Computer is in the back room and I'm the only one who uses it...he uses his laptop, XBox uses the TV. So, if he plays XBox, it does mean that no one else in the family (we have 4) can watch anything on TV. Not a big deal, but it is courteous to ask around-maybe I'm reading now but planned to watch a movie when the kids went to bed, for instance. And yeah, I could tell him to stop playing if he doesn't ask, but I feel bad if he's immersed in a game.

Second, there is a qualitative difference between watching TV and playing games (or, DH's favorite-watching political videos on his laptop without his headphones on). Game noises are often annoying, as are the tinny video sounds from the laptop, esp since I'm not watching it, just hearing Bill O'Reilly get heckled or something. They just aren't very social activities and tend to exclude others in the room (yeah, I get some people like to watch others play video games, but I don't think that's very common).

Finally, my husband is a complete "monotasker", which I think is more common with men than women. So, if he's playing games, he is often completely unable to respond to anything else in his environment-crying toddler, my telling him dinner is ready, the doorbell ringing. That can also be annoying.

Yeah, your girlfriend should've handled it differently. You probably should've, too. Talk about, try your best not to get manipulative in turn...and I don't think this needs to be a huge deal.
posted by purenitrous at 10:11 AM on February 7, 2009

Go buy either SSX Tricky or Champions of Norrath. Those two games kept my relationship well-oiled for months - especially 2-player cooperative with CoN. Wifey loved both of those games, and even used to hum the "Song for Dot" theme while doing housework, or chuckle "Sweeter'n can-deee!" from time to time for no apparent reason. I vote against DTMFPS2. Or 3. Instead, I'd seriously DTMFG unless she GAFC and LTA your PS2. Something that brings you down, or something that entertains you; the choice is obvious. I'd have taken the cat bottle and sprayed her in the face a couple of times, said "No!" then gone straight back to my g4ming yeah.
posted by tra at 7:36 PM on March 5, 2009

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