What would you do, at home in the evenings, if you couldn't surf the web or play computer games?
July 22, 2009 8:20 PM   Subscribe

What would you do, at home in the evenings, if you couldn't surf the web or play computer games?

A few months after moving in together, my boyfriend's web surfing/computer game seems to have steadily increased, to the point where that is what he does with 95% of his free time, every day.

I am lonely in the relationship.

We do usually have dinner together, but he seems bored and itching to go back after 20 minutes.

We have talked about this. I have asked him if being on the computer is his favorite thing to do with his free time, whether he really does have that much fun being online that much, and whether he would be satisfied if that were how he spent most of his free time for the next five years. The answers to those questions were all "no'.

I have asked him what he would do instead if he reached that point of dissatisfaction. He said he would know when he got there.

Part of the problem is that most of the other things he likes to do are active sports. During nighttime or in bad weather, those things aren't options.

He has asked me what I would like to do, when we're at home together. What I like to do is just hang out and talk, drink wine, soak in the hot tub, watch movies or listen to music.

When we started dating, he enjoyed this, and we did it much more. We would talk for hours a night. Now, he seems to get bored with it as quickly as I get bored when I play video games with him (or at all).

He has said that if I come up for activities for us to do on a day-to-day basis, when we're at home in the evenings (rather than special, one-off events like going camping), that he will try them. It would be easier if he came up with those things, instead of me guessing, but I am wiling to do it.

Do you have ideas? I am really looking for suggestions from people who also had a high level of internet use/gaming, who were able to find other things that caught their interest in the same way, that could be shared with a partner.

I love him, I like him, and I think he's a very interesting and attractive person- I just want more of him, like I had before.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Break out a modern, non-kids-oriented, board game. There are thousands out now, and many are fun.
posted by @troy at 8:24 PM on July 22, 2009 [15 favorites]

I know you want to get away from him using the internet/playing games, but have you ever thought about perhaps playing a game together? I used to (nerd alert) play WoW with my SO and we had a great time sitting on the couch together, raiding and making fun of the other people we would group with that didn't know we were sitting next to one another.

If that is not an option, maybe you two should have a DIY two person bookclub. Buy two trade paperbacks or two copies of a used book (so you're not spending more than $6/book) and set a determined time to have it finished by, and then discuss the book together, so you have all new things to talk about. A lot of books can be found with discussion questions in the back, so you don't even have to think about stuff to talk about - just answer those questions together, each person offering their own perspective.
posted by banannafish at 8:26 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Definitely board games.

My own favorite for relationship-chatting: Mancala. Easy to learn, enough depth to not get dull, straightforward enough that it can be easily played during a conversation without either suffering. For that matter, most boards are long-and-thin enough that they can be pretty easily balanced on the edge of a bathtub, now that I think about it...
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:28 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

You could try studying something together. Like you both try to learn french or something.
posted by delmoi at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

what about reading the newspaper together? you could read a section and then swap with him, discuss articles, do the crossword together, read the classified ads aloud in funny voices...
posted by gursky at 8:30 PM on July 22, 2009

Part of the problem is that the Internet and computer games deliver a constant, regular, predictable reward, and it's difficult to get disengaged from that unless you have something that replaces it biochemically. (I struggle with this problem every day. Like, right now.) Low-intensity activities like sitting around and talking just don't do that. Board games are a good idea--but have you considered maybe budging a little and finding some computer games that you could enjoy together?
posted by nasreddin at 8:31 PM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

This may not be a feasible idea...however, my girlfriend and I added a dog to our relationship, and he occupies TONS of our time. We take him to the park, the beach, out to lunch and dinner, for long walks in the day and the middle of the night. We spend a lot of time playing with him at home. This may not be an option for you, but it certainly adds a different dynamic to a relationship.
posted by AlliKat75 at 8:34 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Most people, back in the old days, cooked everyday.

2 people in the kitchen works well. You can have 2 dishes going at the same time or have one prep and one clean. Cook for the sake of cooking. Don't build expectation. Enjoy the process of creating something that you know, with time, will be worth eating.

Inviting people over for dinner is a great excuse to cook as well.
posted by abdulf at 8:42 PM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]

Cook complicated dinners together
Do labour-intensive tasks together at a relaxed pace (paint a room, shovel the driveway, etc)
Have a date-night once a week where you consume culture outside of the house (concert, theatre, festival, museum, paint ceramics together at one of those ceramics places, etc)
Volunteer at an animal shelter
Become Big Siblings at whatever youth organization is in your area
Join a recreational sports team (I forced my guy to play dodgeball on a league with me; now he loves it)
Go for a drive late at night to a place where there's a body of water. Bring wine and a picnic blanket.
Have friends over more often.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:42 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm thinking the old standbys, sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
posted by CoinOp at 8:44 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

Work on things around the house.
Draw. Read books. Learn to play an instrument. Learn a language. Take up a sport you can do together.
What CoinOp said.

I wouldn't get a pet.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:47 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by lottie at 9:07 PM on July 22, 2009

Read aloud to each other.
posted by pised at 9:11 PM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]

Take walks outside together (can be done in any weather except the most foul).
Play a video game together.
Go to your favorite coffee spot, get drinks, hang out.
Refurbish a piece of dinged-up furniture together.
Read the letters to the editor to each other in funny voices.
posted by contessa at 9:14 PM on July 22, 2009

My fiancé has the same problem with me on occasion. (Eerily so; I suspected it was her writing this for a moment!) And I only get to see her in 3 month bursts until we marry, which probably makes me an even worse partner. Nonetheless, ways she successfully gets me off the computer:

- +1 for pets. She has 2 dogs, and I absolutely adore them. I often want to bath them, take them for walks, or just hang out with them. I don't know that getting a pet just for this purpose is wise, but having one around certainly helps.
- Sex, of course. Similarly, I am powerless to say no if she suggests showering together. And it's easy to segue both of these into something else afterwards, since you're already together. (ie, you're not trying to tempt him from the computer, just trying to stop him going directly back to it)
- Cooking. If we're ever having something more adventurous for dinner, she asks me to help sometimes, and I am always more than happy. I find cooking and the food preparation process in general rather dull, but seem to enjoy it more when we do it together.
- Just go for a walk. Anywhere. To the end of the block and back or miles away, it doesn't matter. Or make it a bike ride if that's more your thing. Or a run. Whatever.
- Grocery shopping is surprisingly enjoyable when we do it together.

A lot of these aren't "activities" as such, just day-to-day things, but those sort of things depend more on personal preference. An activity I enjoy, you might not. But if there's a common interest, and I assume there is, exploit it to the fullest possible degree. If either of us has finished a book lately, a discussion about it can last between 5 minutes and an hour or more. Try talking to him about a game he likes; lots of games have real-world overlaps in "normal" areas, such as the evolutionary aspect of Spore, emergent AI in RTS's (I will defend this as a "real" topic to my death). I'm not much of a gamer, so I'm a little light on examples here, but they exist. My SO has a Master's in Physiology and Biophys, and I find discussions on that topic fascinating, and there are numerous overlaps in my own areas of interest (some computer-based, some not), so you could just give goold old-fashioned talking to each other a shot.
posted by nostrich at 9:28 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Could you get him to learn to knit with you or something? Make little furry murlocs together on the couch while you plow through a season or two of some mutually agreeable TV show? Some sort of portable craft might scratch the "need reward, like repetition" itch that farming in MMOs also scratches.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:39 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take turns in planning visiting parts of the city as if you were tourists. You can live in a big city for a long time and miss out on many amazing things going on. For example, I live in Sydney Australia and for a long time I took things like the Opera House, the Bridge, the Rocks, Darling Harbour etc for granted, until I showed relatives from overseas around.

Turns out they knew about this cool festival at the rocks I had no idea about, and we stumbled across an outdoor art exhibition, and I found out things like this are on ALL THE TIME. So now I subscribe to Whats On in my city, go to coffee/food/music/art/wine festivals, markets etc.

Best of all - for the most part, its free.
posted by Admira at 10:10 PM on July 22, 2009

I have asked him if being on the computer is his favorite thing to do with his free time, whether he really does have that much fun being online that much, and whether he would be satisfied if that were how he spent most of his free time for the next five years. The answers to those questions were all "no'.

A good definition of an addiction is if you don't stop doing something even if you know you should be or want to be doing something else instead, and there's nothing tangible preventing you from stopping.

E.g. You're NOT addicted to work if you are working to make ends meet / support your family. You're NOT addicted to work if you love your work more than anything else. You ARE addicted to work if you don't need to work the extra hours and would like to spend time with the family, but just can't seem to turn off the laptop or blackberry.

So it sounds to me like your boyfriend has a mild internet addiction problem. He should seek some form of therapy.
posted by randomstriker at 10:31 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

My husband and I have this problem - in spades. You see, we're both like your partner. As in, we both go home, glue ourselves to the computer, and don't move or say a word for hours. And we're both like you - missing the other one terribly, even though they are right there.

To combat this, we've instituted date nights. Nights were we either go out for dinner, or cook dinner together, but in any case - nights where it's just him and I, no computers allowed. We make an effort to go out and have coffee on weekends, and go to the art gallery and whatnot. Places where we *can't* be glued to computers.

We also have specific nights which are for computers, too. Because frankly - we both need the alone-time, being introverted types. And hell, that's where a lot of our hobbies lie - we're both active in various online communities, both programmers, and both play WoW. And having the ability to (guilt-free) spend time alone together makes it a lot easier on both of us to spend time being with each other and actually present in mind as well as body.
posted by ysabet at 10:47 PM on July 22, 2009

What would you do, at home in the evenings, if you couldn't surf the web or play computer games?

- Have sex.

And or.

- Read a book.

And or.

- Listen to music.

And or.

- Get drunk.

Not necessarily in any order, though the first is always the priority.
posted by wfrgms at 10:50 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yetisburg. Two player game completely full of awesome.

I taught my SO how to sew.

We also like to each grab our own books and then read while cuddling.

To compromise, if you have two computers you can play something with him. That way you can participate in his kind of fun, too. I really enjoyed playing Neverwinter Nights on the computer with my SO. I was able to pick up copies for ~$10 on half.com a couple years ago. The compromise part is that after a night of mutual computer gaming, you do something offline together.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 11:12 PM on July 22, 2009

Board games and card games - great ideas! Cooking together - so much fun! Mini-bookclubs are great, too, though a little short of conversation for long stretches.

How arty are the two of you? It's such wonderful fun to share something creative with someone special, if the both of you are into it. Even the slightest bit of overlap in your respective disciplines can pave the way for a bunch of creative fun. For instance, the last gal I dated seriously loved to make her own clothes and picture frames and whatnot - I'm into drawing comics, but we used to have an absolute gas gluing and lashing household junk into goofy little art projects. Mostly, we made toy robots from busted electronics and bike lamps. You've probably got a junk drawer in your house/apartment just screaming for some couple to come along with a hot glue gun and make all the useless crap inside of it into Something Awesome.

Is your fella into Civilization, RTSes and other world-building/god-games? Then you could maybe have some fun building Lego empires together!

You could make comic strips together! Draw a panel, pass it, he draws a panel and passes it back. Have two strips going so you'll both always have something to draw and won't be sitting around waiting for the other to get done with their panel. This works with a lot of creative things, really - you could write a silly poem together, coming up with rhymes for each other's lines. You could write a play - first, create some characters, then kinda act/write as them together - your in-character conversations become the dialog!

Even if you guys have only a passing interest in creative pursuits, I think collaborating and creating together is a good way to go.

Also - is going out of the house and doing something a little physical absolutely out of the question? What's your neighborhood like? Is it good for strolling at all during the hours in question? Do you guys own bikes? Bike-riding together = so much fun!
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:18 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

When my partner is doing his own thing on the computer, I do things on my own in the same room. I'll play games on my computer or on xbox or something, read a book, watch a movie, whatever, but being in the same room often makes it feel a little less separate, and I still get my own time to do what I like while he has his own time too.

One thing I will admit to using strategically when I am needing a little bit more attention and face-time than I am being offered is to read a book like I usually might, but with fewer articles of clothing. I find that this has a very high success rate when compared with nagging.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:25 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

do something creative on the computer together. teach yourselves how to build a website, then brainstorm ideas for websites, then make it!
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 4:49 AM on July 23, 2009

I would like to nth the cooking suggestion but extend it to baking (in the hope that your boyfriend doesn't think of it as a 'girly' pursuit).
posted by hellogoodbye at 5:01 AM on July 23, 2009

I'l second the suggestion to try playing modern board games. It's not all snakes and ladders or monopoly; modern games can be based around negotiation, trading, betraying each other or co-operating together to beat the game itself. They're a great thing to engage in together and trigger the same reward responses that computer games and websites are tuned to deliver.

I'd suggest looking through this great list of "gateway games", picked to be easy to learn while retaining depth and to be playable within an hour so they won't devour your social lives. When you're ready to move on, there's an incredible amount of information about practically any game in existence at BoardGameGeek, that @troy linked to above.
posted by metaBugs at 6:56 AM on July 23, 2009

I don't want to be a dick, but I could have written basically this exact same question about a month before my ex dumped me. Looking back on it, the constant computer use and lack of interest in the things we used to do together for fun is one of the only real "warning signs" I can identify. So... it's something to keep in mind.
posted by telegraph at 6:57 AM on July 23, 2009

I suggest getting out of the house. There are tons of active things to do at night time, or when it's raining. You can play basketball at a gym, indoor soccer, etc. Look for a fitness class or sport skills class to join. An indoor sports league.

Go out to restaurants or bars with friends. If that is too expensive, invite people over for board game night or an informal meal. Anything that forces him to avoid the games.

Also cooking dinner together and cleaning up together can take up a lot longer than 20 minutes. Ask him if he is willing to take charge in cooking, that way he is more invested in the activity than just helping you. (Of course, he should also help you)
posted by Gor-ella at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2009

Perhaps you guys can take a walk together in the park. You could go out for dinner once a week. Go see a movie.

There are also nighttime sports leagues, at least in the city I live in.
posted by reenum at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2009

I started painting with my girlfriend on Monday nights. I suck, but I still have a good time. It's very peaceful. You get to talk, and it's not intense or competitive, like a game. (And you do get better.)

It might not be for you guys, but it is way less difficult and pleasing than you might think, especially if you don't put a lot of pressure on yourself.

I imagine something like woodcarving or clay sculpting would be a pretty similar experience.
posted by ignignokt at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2009

I am lonely in the relationship.

Go out more with friends or find a hobby of your own away from the house. Seriously. I know this seems to defeat the purpose of spending more time with your partner, but the time you DO spend together will be of higher quality. Often, not being around as much makes a guy want to spend more time with you. Constant availability can turn into boredom.
posted by desjardins at 7:25 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

He likes active sports? Why not work out together at home?

Better yet, get one of those DVDs that teaches you how to get fit by dancing. There's a Salsa dance workout DVD out there--Salsa Cardio or Salsa Crunch or something like that. I know there's one called Hip-Hip Dance that my cousin likes. I believe there's other ones, too--check Amazon or some such. You'd burn calories, build muscle, and learn to dance all at the same time.

Although not as active, I definitely nth the board and card game suggestions. There's a ton of great games out there. 1960: The Making of the President is a fantastic two-person board game. And don't forget two person board games classics like chess, backgammon, go, and dominoes, and two-person card game classics like cribbage and Hollywood Gin.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:39 AM on July 23, 2009

I'd discourage the "pet" solution. Entering into a 15+-year-commitment with a pet when you've only been living with your boyfriend for months is asking for complication.

(I mean, by all means get a pet because you want a pet -- but don't get a pet to solve this problem which, in a pet's lifespan, is temporary.)
posted by mendel at 8:00 AM on July 23, 2009

Way back in the dark ages, before high-speed Internet, we used to read and watch TV. I don't mean just doing this passively: Read and talk about what you're reading. Share passages with each other. Watch and talk about what you're watching, creating your own mutual commentary on the program.

Even today, this works for my partner and me, since he is disabled/weak/fatigued/depressed and has cut back sharply on his own Internet use. Using a shared in-home activity draws him out of himself, focuses him away from the problems he cannot change, and creates ongoing shared experiences.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:46 AM on July 23, 2009

Seconding a lot of what's been said.

For me, the solution is Wednesdate and Saturdate. Having two nights a week where all we do all evening is be with each other, focus on each other, talk to each other is good enough that the rest of the week we can ease off some of that. We've had our fill, so to speak. In between those days then it's guilt-free gaming.
posted by Sully at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you or your boyfriend are geeky enough, a great way to combine doing creative things together and playing a game would be to start a Warhammer Fantasy or 40K army or two. If you (or he) are not interested in playing the game, you can start a single army and assemble and paint it together, and then whoever's army it is can go out and play against other players at your local game store. Or you can both start an army, and play against each other as well as others. Either way, you can spend a lot of time together assembling and painting your army(ies), and talking about painting your army(ies), and talking about strategies for playing your army(ies). I did this with an ex of mine and it probably kept us together for a lot longer than we would have stayed together otherwise, which may or may not have been a good thing, I don't really know. One caveat is that it's a pretty spendy hobby, especially if you get really into it and want to keep buying more stuff to paint.

Other, less geeky things you could try: get some massage oil and give each other massages once or twice a week. This can often lead to sex, which certainly doesn't ever hurt a relationship, and you'll probably want to shower (preferably together) afterwards, whether you have sex or not. You could also try going out and taking tango, swing, or salsa (or other) dance lessons together; those are indoors, are physically active, and usually pretty cheap.
posted by Caduceus at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2009

Yoga or work out together. Cook.

Alternatively, my gf and I watch an enormous amount of TV, mostly already-canceled shows on DVD from Netflix. It's a much more social experience than you'd expect if you choose to make it so. But then, video games can be as well, I'm told.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:16 PM on July 23, 2009

I don't know who all these people are that have convinced their couch/desk potato partners to work out with them, but I'd have a herculean task ahead of me if I tried that. Go biking or whatever by yourself. Sometimes that inspires the person to go with you. Sometimes not. Either way, you get exercise and you feel better.
posted by desjardins at 3:12 PM on July 23, 2009

Catch him in the morning before he plugs in. Snuggle him awake in bed, maybe bring him a coffee, talk for a little while.

At the same time, he could be the type to be really pissed at being woken up, so take with a grain of salt.

Also, bikes are great. It's amazing how easily a bike ride to eat lunch turns into an afternoon out.
posted by wild like kudzu at 10:08 PM on July 23, 2009

The word "friends" has been mentioned three times so far, so I don't want to sound like I'm repeating someone else's good advice, but:

You both might need to develop a life outside of the house. A life involving friends (mutual or otherwise), events and activities.

No one can be everything to another person, so stop trying to slot Boyfriend into that role. Vonnegut put this much more plainly but I can't find the quote, and my copy of "Cat's Cradle" is elsewhere. Maybe somebody else can think of it.

I speak from experience. Your non-work life needs more balance, more people, more interest.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:10 AM on July 24, 2009

« Older Where can I find volunteer opportunities in SF?   |   Offer music at a wake? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.