Partner's hobby takes a lot of time away from us
May 28, 2012 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Partner's hobby takes a lot of time away from us

My SO's main hobby is gaming. He has been playing for many years, and while I have tried to play with him (pretty seriously at one point), it's just not for me. The idea of playing 10 hours straight to barely put a dent in the game has become unappealing to me.

He works, and will come home at 6:30 and immediately get on the computer. It's not a game that can be paused, so if I ever want his attention or to spend time with him, I have to wait at least half an hour. On weekends, he'll wake up and play for the whole day.

What makes it worse, is that he plays with other people, and has his headset on, so he's talking about the game, playing with them all day. I feel like he is spending more time with other people than me.

On weekends, I can get him to go out for a few hours. On weekdays, I can get him to make food with me, but that's about it. If he were playing solo, I might feel a bit better, but he is literally spending most of his free time on this hobby with other people.

I don't know what is reasonable in terms of how much time to expect from him.
posted by DeltaForce to Human Relations (47 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
What's your question, specifically? What is reasonable for him? What you should expect? How to communicate it? What you should do if he doesn't change?
posted by grouse at 8:50 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it were me, and other people will probably hate my answer, I would seriously throw out an ultimatum: I'm not going to be married to someone who cares more about a video game than they do me. You you either need to reprioritize that game way down below our relationship, or I'm going to leave and find someone who actually wants to be around me.

The other option is to take up your own hobby in the same time he plays games and fall into a sort of marriage of convenience.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:50 AM on May 28, 2012 [55 favorites]


There comes a time in life when one must fit one's hobbies around one's life, instead of the other way around. Sounds like it's just about that time for your SO. If he's unwilling or unable, I might consider making plans to find someone who is...
posted by chasing at 8:52 AM on May 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


There is no "reasonable" answer. There is only the answer that works for YOU. As in, what kind of relationship do YOU want to be in? For me, this would absolutely be a dealbreaker and I'd be out the door. Are you married? Do you have kids? A shared mortgage? Take all of that into consideration and decide what your answer is. It might just be a quick, "Bye, I'm leaving you." Or it might be a trip to therapy for you, or both of you if you can convince him. Or an ultimatum, but only if you plan on sticking to the consequences.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:00 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: What's your question, specifically? What is reasonable for him? What you should expect? How to communicate it? What you should do if he doesn't change?

Is this reasonable and what should I do if it is not?
posted by DeltaForce at 9:01 AM on May 28, 2012


Was he gaming before you started dating?

Is it reasonable? For him, yes. For you, no.

What should you do? If you don't like it, leave. If you don't mind, stay.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:02 AM on May 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't know what is reasonable in terms of how much time to expect from him.

Well, how much time would you like him to spend with you? What would you be happy with? Figure out what level of his attention and game-free time you'd like and then ask for that. If you'd like him to say, spend two evenings and either Sunday or Saturday either doing things with your or doing his share of housekeeping stuff (because I have to wonder when he's doing that!), it would be reasonable to ask for that specifically, and he can game all he likes the other three evenings and the other weekend day.

Maybe you need less of his time, maybe you need more, but I'd say if he won't give you that much of his time, it's probably time you found someone who did.
posted by orange swan at 9:05 AM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this reasonable and what should I do if it is not?

It doesn't matter if it is reasonable. Arguing about whether or not it's reasonable (with us, yourself, or him) is pointless. What you need to decide -- alone first and then with him -- is what you would like and what you will tolerate. Then find somewhere between those two extremes that you can both live with.

And if you can't find a spot between those two extremes that you can both live with, you're not compatible and shouldn't be together.
posted by toomuchpete at 9:05 AM on May 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


Gaming, especially the MMORPG kind, like World of Warcraft, can be likened to a team sport. Depending on what your SO is actually doing, there could be as many as 9-24 other people depending on him to perform a certain role. It could be as though he's a pitcher or first-baseman on a softball team.

However, if he's playing for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is certainly some ability to trim his playing time.

Ask him:

- how many hours he feels he must spend playing with this group of people
- how many hours he feels he must spend preparing to play with this group
- to show you a breakdown/schedule of his time when he feels he must play

If the amount of time he feels is necessary to play doesn't work for you, communicate that to him. "Is it possible to take a night off?" or "can you do your prep work another time?" and such.

While it could just be that he's enthralled by the game or games, it could be that he has various responsibilities in the game. If it's responsibilities he's got, see what can be done to lessen them.

Or, you could just say "quit playing so much or we're done", but that's more like an ultimatum and won't convey to your SO that you have any respect for his hobbies/interests.
posted by juliebug at 9:05 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know what is reasonable in terms of how much time to expect from him.

Let's re-position that question. How little time can your SO spend with you and still expect to be your SO?

Given your question history, I am vaguely concerned that the answer may be "very little" because if this is the same relationship as previous questions, it seems like this is your first serious gig and you are extremely dependent on it. But the thing about gaming is that for a lot of people (me included) it's addictive. He may not be able to cut down and totally unwilling to quit. You may need to leave him if you want to be with someone who can give you more time.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:06 AM on May 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know what is reasonable in terms of how much time to expect from him.

More time than this?

My husband is a gamer. He's in his office right now with his nose about a foot from the screen, headphones on, clicking away. This is the time he gives us/me, so you have something to compare it to:

-We alternate days we make dinner. He has to make dinner 3/4 days a week. I often go and hang out and have a drink with him while he cooks.
-Every Sunday we have TV night, where we watch several hours of awesome TV together, cuddle, eat popcorn, talk about it.
-About once a week we go out for dinner and/or a movie.
-Every night he comes in and tucks me in before bed, at the same time every night. Even if we don't go to sleep together, he takes that time out of his game to reaffirm our relationship and its importance to him.

Additionally, we have an agreement that if I need to go speak to him while he's gaming, he has to respond nicely, and not just gruffly shout, "Can't. Boss." This developed, clearly, because we were having these kinds of interactions on a regular basis and they were upsetting. I calmly said to him, "You know, I realize it's an inconvenience to you when I come in to speak with you. But I think it's important that we both communicate calmly and respectfully to one another because to treat each other rudely, even if we feel justified, erodes the foundation of our relationship."

It's amazing what calm, respectful communication does. It really, really helps. I'd recommend you both read John Gottman to help figure out ways to negotiate and discuss issues like these.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:07 AM on May 28, 2012 [55 favorites]


It's not reasonable if you want to spend more time with him. You need to sit down with him and tell him that you appreciate that he loves his hobby but that you need more time with him as a family. My husband is an avid gamer and he works in the gaming industry, oy... so I know how it is. Sometimes he just gets so caught up in a game (coughcoughDIABLOcoughcough) that he doesn't realize he's been playing all night. When that happens for too many days in a row I gently tell him that I miss him and want to spend more time with him.

And probably his default suggestion will be that you should play with him. That's fair, but it's not the only way you can spend time together. Nor should you suggest things that only you enjoy. There has to be stuff that you both enjoy that you can do together. But if you just go to him and demand more of his time without any reasonable suggestions, you probably won't have much success.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:07 AM on May 28, 2012


It could be as though he's a pitcher or first-baseman on a softball team.

My brother is a pitcher in a recreational (but fairly serious) baseball league. He spends a lot less than time than "all day, everyday" on it, and he's single.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:09 AM on May 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's reasonable for him to want to play games. It's reasonable for you to want him to spend time with you rather than play games. We all get the right to choose what we do with our time, but sometimes those choices are incompatible with other choices.

In life, we all set priorities to make these choices. Right now, gaming is taking a higher priority than spending time with you. If you're not ok with this, you need to ask him to change that or you need a different partner.
posted by advicepig at 9:09 AM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


You really need to talk to him about this. Why does he play so much? As stress release? Is he playing with old friends who he now only stays in touch with via the game? Is there something going on in his life that he needs to be distracted from?

Also, while I COMPLETELY understand what you're saying and have felt the same way more than once, the "if he were playing solo, I might feel a bit better," aspect of this is completely unfair, and I wouldn't approach the issue from that angle when you talk to him. The real problem here is that you don't feel like you have enough quality time with your partner.

Personally, I think there needs to be a compromise -- he needs to dial it back, and you need to accept that this is how he wants to spend some his free time and that socializing with other people online isn't a slight against you.

Again, I have absolutely been in a place very similar to this, and you have ALL of my sympathy. But just try and separate your completely reasonable need for more quality time from your less reasonable jealousy of his online acquaintances.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:12 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


God, I feel for you. I'm the gamer/internet addict/whatever in our relationship. I get so caught up in my things (playing, reading blogs, writing replies, etc.) that I often just zone out for hours and hours.

My wife actually put her foot down at the beginning of the relationship and said no MMORPGs for this very reason. We'd both MUD'ed before, and she saw how hooked I got with just text. Up against World of Warcraft, I'd be useless. I recognized that as well, and never even opened that Pandora's Box.

You're being reasonable. You want to spend more time with a person you love. He's being reasonable. He wants to enjoy his hobby. There's a middle ground in there. I try to remember to shut my laptop screen when I'm not absolutely using it and cuddle up against my wife in the evenings. She gives me time to unwind and play my games when I've had a crazy day, or if I just need to zone out for a bit.

People have talked about priorities, and I think that's important here. You have your priorities, and he has his. If you want them to change, then conversations need to be had. Relationships are about compromise (so sayeth the cliche), and that means everyone needs to be bend and give a little. It sounds like you're giving it all right now, though.
posted by SNWidget at 9:16 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Gaming, especially the MMORPG kind, like World of Warcraft, can be likened to a team sport. Depending on what your SO is actually doing, there could be as many as 9-24 other people depending on him to perform a certain role. It could be as though he's a pitcher or first-baseman on a softball team.

He hasn't really done raiding, so this isn't the issue. It's more instances, in WoW anyways. Now it's Diablo III.

Personally, I think there needs to be a compromise -- he needs to dial it back, and you need to accept that this is how he wants to spend some his free time and that socializing with other people online isn't a slight against you.

Yes, I think you're right. I don't feel slighted that he spends time with other people, it's that he spends time with other people way more than he does with me.

So I think the issue isn't if this is reasonable, but if this is reasonable for me. Maybe it could be, I'm not sure. But as it stands right now, it is uncomfortable for me.
posted by DeltaForce at 9:17 AM on May 28, 2012


How did you date in the first place? What was it like when you moved in together? I think you might need to pull a "Priscilla Chan" and sit down and re-negotiate the terms of your relationship.

And you have to be prepared to walk away...unfortunately sometimes that's how things turn out, if he is unwilling or unable to change and/or give you what you want/need from this relationship.
posted by bquarters at 9:20 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


He hasn't really done raiding, so this isn't the issue. It's more instances, in WoW anyways. Now it's Diablo III.

If he's not raiding or doing rated battlegrounds or arena matches, and there are no plans for his guild/friends to raid/do RBGs/arenas, it's very easy to dial back WoW playing. Ask him how much time he feels he needs per night or per week to run instances with friends and try to compromise on the amount of time. It may depend on other people's schedules, too, but it should be easy to cut back when there's no big goal for a much bigger group of people.

As to Diablo III, well, it's new and it's shiny. But by no means does he have to play that with other people. Sure, he'd like to, but they don't need him and he doesn't need them. It's occasionally more fun to play with friends, but D3 can be done as a single-player game.

I'd really just talk to him and try to sort out his priorities and, as someone said above, why he's setting his games as priorities.
posted by juliebug at 9:29 AM on May 28, 2012


Let's re-position that question. How little time can your SO spend with you and still expect to be your SO?

Exactly this.

This man is not your partner. He's not your significant other. He's just your "other." He's a guy you live with who cares deeply for and spends his time interacting with people other than you.

You don't need to dump him, because he already dumped you a long, long time ago.

A relationship is just that: A relationship. You don't have a relationship. You have a roommate. A good relationship is a partnership. A great relationship is a strong, caring, cooperative, productive partnership characterized by respect, love, and self-sacrifice. You don't have any of that. You have a roommate.

As another, wiser MeFite has said in the Green, "the one" is not a person - it's a relationship. This is not The One. Move on so you can find and be part of The One. Trust me: The One is way better than this, and The One - the relationship, not the person - is possible only if you get out of The Not-One.
posted by The World Famous at 9:42 AM on May 28, 2012 [31 favorites]


There's no indication by the asker that the he or she and the gamer/roommate are married, is there?
posted by The World Famous at 9:49 AM on May 28, 2012


It's totally a case of what's reasonable for you. It's okay to ask for what makes you happy and to expect your partner to at least work with you on it.

My partner is a gamer, and what you describe would be unreasonable for me.
posted by corvine at 9:52 AM on May 28, 2012


I find it kind of ridiculous that you should consider "teammates" who may be "depending on" him or "needing" him to do anything. That's like saying that you have to watch a certain TV show because the actors or advertizers "need" your attention.

Surely there is no shortage of players that could take his place if/when he decides to cut back on the game and surely people join and quit these kinds of games all the time. It's not his job - it's a game.

Having said that, I think you might want to offer a positive alternative, rather than just asking him to give something up. I think it's fair to ask him to do a fun plan with you on Thursday night; I don't think it's fair to say that you'd prefer he do something else with his free time, instead of playing this game. Having said that, you must decide whether or not you find this boarderline-weird obsession with a game attractive or a quality that you would like in a partner.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:56 AM on May 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


I find it kind of ridiculous that you should consider "teammates" who may be "depending on" him or "needing" him to do anything. That's like saying that you have to watch a certain TV show because the actors or advertizers "need" your attention.

I think this is unfair because these games really are more like being on a recreational sports team. If you're the pitcher and you don't show up for the game on Saturday, then you let the team down. The big difference is that most recreational sports teams have a practice once or twice a week for a couple hours and one game on a weekend for a couple hours, and even then, they only run a few months out of the year and then you take break for a season.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:00 AM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, I can tell you it would NOT be reasonable for me.

I mean, what is the purpose of getting married to a person if you aren't going to share a life with them? Who does the housework? Who does the grocery shopping? Does he have time to know what's going on in your life? Does he know your friends, your quarrels, your worries, etc.? Do you have time to know about his coworkers, his work drama, his frustration with traffic, etc? Do you have time to experience art, music or at least funny tv shows together?

yes?

then it may not be such a big deal.

no?

then what on earth is the purpose of this marriage?

...Also consider that some people are addicted to gaming. Have you discussed this with him? What is his perspective? Dos he feel he spends enough time with you? My husband has a record label he runs on his free time, but I have NEVER felt like I occupy second place in his life, and he's pretty obsessive about his music. People find time for what interests them. Otherwise he may not be that interested in you, or he may have an addiction.

Really, talk with him.
posted by Tarumba at 10:00 AM on May 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I misread. My advice still applies, just change the word marriage for relationship.

Plus, I hope I'm not overstepping my boundaries, but if this is the same guy in your other question, the one who treats strangers better than you, I would definitely dump him if I were you.
posted by Tarumba at 10:11 AM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


What are some of the things you would like him to do with you? The reason I ask, I can be a little like your SO. I get carried away with being online, photography, a few games, etc. For me, it's weeknights and weekends in the winter particularly as I'm usually fairly active outside the house in the summer. My wife and I have this argument occasionally where she feels I'm not spending enough time with her and have become obsessed with my own projects and interests.

From my side of the argument though, I do emerge from my office every once in a while and what I see is she's watching television. That's her thing that she likes to unwind but I just can't get interested in most of what's on TV, it's boring as hell for me and I don't really feel like it's "quality time" if I'm just sitting there watching the tube with her... it'd be no different (in my mind) than me saying, Why don't you sit here in my office and watch my kill a dragon in Skyrim, or organize last weekends photos in lightroom". If we've got plans or actual things to do I'm always happy to do them and get out of the house, but if it's just to watch TV.. I'll be in my office. That said, I certainly don't neglect my share of the household/yard stuff that needs to be done.

So, with that in mind my advice is that you're probably being perfectly reasonable in wanting him to cut back on the gaming ... but try to find an activity that you guys can go do together.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 10:14 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


This sounds like an addiction to me. Coming home and playing or going online to decompress for a bit is one thing, spending 10 hours a day at this is quite another. He'd rather be with his online friends than with you, a real live person in the same room.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:31 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I used to play WoW quite a bit and am still quite fond of the game, so that kind of colours my perspective here.

I'd advise you to sit your husband down and make some guidelines for what you expect in terms of together-time. Be careful not to word it as "you play the game too much" because what he does in his own time is his own choice. If you word it as "I feel we aren't spending enough time together for me to be happy. I know you really enjoy playing your games but is there a way you could spend more time with me?". Then, together, you hash out a schedule akin to what PhoBWanKenobi wrote.

Both my ex and I used to play (we met playing, actually) and even then we'd have "date nights" where we'd do something else together without the game. Even though both of us were likely to turn to the game afterward if we were bored, it was nice to shake things up every now and then.

Since you said he doesn't raid, it's entirely possible that this is a symptom of something else. I played maybe 12-15 hours a week (including prep) when I was raiding. When I sank into a depressive episode, my play time went up exponentially. This might not be the case for him but it's something to keep in mind.
posted by buteo at 10:33 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if he's hooked on a new game, yeah, it's hard. My SO was recently part of the Tera beta and, man, did those weekends suck. New games are shiny and hard to tear a gamer away from, and we frequently have to renegotiate relationship terms when there's a new game in town.

I don't necessarily think this is a "dump him" issue. But I think it's a "time for some honest communication" issue. He might not know how this feels for you, and I think it's time for you to talk to him about it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:35 AM on May 28, 2012


I would note that what one did prior to marriage is not necessarily a template for what one does after being married. I would take tough line: more time with me or do without me.
posted by Postroad at 10:38 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It may be helpful to have the Big Talk framed in terms of not just what you don't want him to be doing (gaming a ridiculous amount of time) but in terms of what you want him to do (help with household obligations, socialize, spend time with you).

If those other things are accounted for, then he can play with whatever time that leaves him.

This way it's seen less as an attack on something he loves doing

I had to have a talk with my wife about this kind of stuff recently (atypically enough, she's more of a gamer than I am*), and that's how I framed it. It mostly worked.

*me, I just give advice to strangers on a web site
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:45 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I assume this is the same guy who in your other question was unable to complete college on a normal time line because of his intense gaming. I think it sounds like he has a problem that is affecting his life and RL relationships. But if he doesn't feel he has a problem there is nothing you can do except live your life for yourself after expressing how his actions affect you and make you feel.
posted by saucysault at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


If this is the same guy that treats strangers better than he treats you, then you should probably go ahead and break up with him. You two seem incompatible.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:08 AM on May 28, 2012


I was totally going to guess you're a Diablo III widow because I'm a Diablo III widow!

Okay, so, my husband is also a big gamer and when we began living together it became an issue. It's been an issue that's required renegotiation as we've started jobs, had children, etc. Here's our basic compromise:

1) I let him know before the weekend if we have an engagement, if I want to spend time with him (doing something specific or otherwise), etc. He also lets me know these things. So that way he knows that at 3 on Saturday we're going to a friends' or on Sunday he's making dinner or whatever.

2) Before he sits down to game, he says, "I'm going to go game for two hours; is there anything you need before I do that?" I was constantly aggravated that I needed him to help me move a couch/change a lightbulb/go with me to pick out a present/find the missing thingie, and he'd be subsumed in the game and my whole day would be waiting for him to break and come do it (or me nagging while he played). That way sometimes I would also say, "Dude, we have a birthday party in an hour!" or whatever. But telling me before he starts and always asking me if I need anything before he does has been really important.

3) When he goes to sit down to game, he gives me a time limit and sets an actual timer. Because my husband and time have only the most passing acquaintance and he admits he'll say "two hours" and suddenly lose a whole day. This annoyed him at first but now he does it on purpose because he likes not losing entire days without noticing ... at least he can come up for air between sessions. (Timer going off means it's time to wrap up, so he sets the timer accordingly; if it takes half an hour to wrap up, he sets it for 90 minutes.)

4) If there's stuff around the house that needs doing, I give him a list and let him work it out in his own time around the game. With the caveat that he can't be doing chores after 9 p.m. (you cannot vacuum in the middle of the night!), I trust him to get it done, and he gets it done. No nagging.

5) If there's nothing going on on a weekend day, I tell him to play as long as he likes and I go amuse myself. (Not so much since we have kids, but for a long time.) Often I'll bring him a lunch so he doesn't even have to get up ... it's okay for him to game all day SOMETIMES.

6) The last, what, two weeks? I've been really nice about it that he has been skipping a good 60% of his chores and spending hours and hours and hours and hours playing Diablo because it's new. In fact now that the long holiday weekend is ending, I'm going to say, "Okay, can we get back a more normal schedule now?" (And he said earlier this week, "I know I'm playing a lot of Diablo, I'll slow down soon.") He actually asked me if I minded if he ordered it because he would spend a lot of time playing it the first few weeks. I said no, because after this many years he's pretty self-aware about it.

So yeah, for us, it was really him being aware that he would disappear into a non-pausable game for extensive hours without any idea of the passing of the time, so he needed to a) be alert to the time and b) let me know that's what he was going to go do and c) ask me if I needed anything before he did. For a while it was our biggest, most constant fight, and now it's been years since we argued about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:11 AM on May 28, 2012 [37 favorites]


I don't want to be too judgey here but I moved in with my now wife so that I could be around her more than was possible when we lived in different places. I assume thats why a lot of people do it. Sure as we have grown together we have found a need for an escape through our own hobbies, but we still spend a lot of time together.

If you have had a real talk with your SO and told him your feelings then it may be time for an ultimatum. I know, they aren't a great idea but you deserve someone that wants to be with you in the real world making real memories together. If you think the relationship is worth working on then go for it, but you have to lay down the law at some point and let them know this is serious and the future of your relationship together is at a precarious point.
posted by WickedPissah at 11:19 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you said anything to him or talked about this at all?

Because what's reasonable for you two guys is not what's going to necessarily be reasonable for any of us. My wife fully intends to spend most of today playing Xenoblade Saga. It's not a problem for us (I will probably do a mix of farting around on Internet message boards, doing some projects I've wanted to do, and maybe playing Starcraft 2). On the other hand, some couples I know would be horrified that we're both doing two different things and not spending time together doing some shared and special activity. If I wanted to do something, I'd say "Yo when you get a second, let's go to the pool," and she'd save/quit whenever she got a moment. But we're pretty casual.

Here's the thing with a lot of the gamers I know. That's sort of how they fill spare time and how they cope with boredom. A lot of them I know don't even like playing as much as they do, but it's the only thing they know how to do (or like to do) to have fun, so when they get free time...that's what they do. It's their thing. It's like the way some people watch TV even if it's not something they particularly enjoy. That's what they do. My mom gets home, TV goes on. He may not even know this is a problem if you haven't talked to him because this is sort of what he does when he's got downtime. Or if you have, you may need to be more explicit. "I want to spend more time with you" is a vague request that may not mean anything to him, necessarily. "I'd like us to spend evenings cuddling" or whatever is a specific request.

Have you given him any idea how much time you want to spend together or that you want to spend more time together? Is he one of those people that thinks "time together" is time being in the same room even if you're doing two separate things? Some people are fine with that, some aren't. I've never seen how people being in the same room is "spending time together" and valuable, but I know there are people that do.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:40 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


My husband was big into gaming when we met. It occasionally caused arguments, but I ended up realizing that I actually liked having a lot of time to myself too, and since we've gotten married I don't think it's been an issue. We were in a long-distance relationship for a few years and when you go up for the weekend only to be told that there's this thing the guild really has to do...well, suffice to say that didn't end well.

Of course, he also quit WoW since those days, which I think helped a lot. He did that on his own; he realized that having these set-in-stone commitments at certain hours of the night every week that might go till the wee hours of the morning was getting in the way of his having the sort of career he wanted to have. So, it's not entirely inconceivable that your SO will dial back his commitment to gaming on his own...but DO NOT COUNT ON THIS HAPPENING. I think in my husband's case, a lot of his gaming was driven by his feelings in grad school that things in his life weren't moving fast enough and he couldn't control his own fate. He was in a position of leadership in a reasonably hardcore guild and I think (and believed at the time too) he was getting something from that that he needed in his life. So maybe think about what your SO is getting out of gaming and whether that's something he's likely to need going forward. It may be the case that he slows down a lot of his own accord as he matures, and you may be able to identify points in his life by which that ought to happen.

At this point, I'm a part-time student and I'm working on a novel, and I'm frankly thrilled he and all his friends are playing Diablo III right now to keep him out of my hair while I study for finals.
posted by town of cats at 11:55 AM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Extra Credits has an interesting episode with a first person account of gaming addiction. Could be worth watching:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/game-addiction-pt.1
posted by chasing at 12:31 PM on May 28, 2012


I agree with those who are saying you do need to ask for more time, and if he's not eager to give it to keep you, then walk. My ex gradually spent more and more time with his hobbies, work, friends, fun, where I was excluded, and if I asked for more of his time, he would guilt me about being "needy" and say that if I really loved him, I would let him do these things he wanted to do instead of 'having' to spend time with me. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. This isn't a relationship. No matter how it hurts, walk away, because you won't get back those wasted years of watching him play with other people and wishing he was playing with you.
posted by The otter lady at 12:36 PM on May 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Being a WoW widow was a big factor in the ending of my marriage.
posted by b33j at 12:50 PM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


If your SO is in his early twenties like you are, he's probably dealing with adulthood by gaming. Gaming provides the goals, social status and structure you lose once you get out of school. If he's inexperienced and young, he might not know what to do in a relationship. It's easier to turn to games where it's always clear what to do next. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he's into you, but doesn't know what to do with you. If so, you might see better results if you provide a similar challenge-reward structure. It sounds ridiculous, but try gamifying your relationship.

The key, I think, is staying enthusiastic, humorous, and specific about what you want. For instance:

(Sorry for the hokeyness of the examples. I'm sure you can think of more appropriate ones. It's been a while since I was a WoW-widow)

Quest: Hang out with DeltaForce doing favorite shared activity X.
Achievement: Fun times with DeltaForce who loves me!

Quest: Clean the apartment, because ogres have apparently destroyed it.
Achievement: Girlfriend is reminded that you think about her! See floor! Clean apartment! Feel like adult!

Quest: Surprise DeltaForce with an awesome night together (hint: needs to be just the two of you).
Achievement: Feel smart about knowing what girlfriend likes. Make girlfriend happy.

Note that this does not mean that any of his issues are your problem or your responsibility. A lot of people would dump him for basically being incompatible and immature. His lifestyle isn't really compatible with being in a normal adult relationship, because he's avoiding being a normal adult. If you choose to do this, you yourself are winning a million girlfriend points.

But as it stands right now, it is uncomfortable for me.

Hey, you shouldn't have to agonize over where to draw the line between "uncomfortable" and "unreasonable". You can have a talk anytime. Why be in a relationship if "I want more, can we make that happen?" is a conversation you can't have with him? Your partner should want you to be happy and actively work towards it. If he's not interested in prioritizing your comfort, he doesn't deserve to be with you.
posted by rhythm and booze at 1:06 PM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


My partner is also a gamer, and what I've found useful is to schedule concrete activities (like Sunday night is date night and Saturday afternoon is field trip day) that begin and end at the same time, so he can build his play schedule around us hanging out. Even if we don't have specific plans, he knows we're doing SOMETHING and allocates time for it.
posted by spunweb at 2:55 PM on May 28, 2012


I used to be a WoW widow in a previous relationship. I'm glad you highlighted that one response above by Eyebrows McGee, because that's an ideal compromise. But stick to your guns when an agreement's made - you call it his hobby, it could be an addiction. My ex kept pushing for me to ease up on the rules, I couldn't trust him to quit on the agreed-upon time without policing him, and he grew very resentful. He decided to give up WoW and play Xbox instead, and the same pattern emerged, even with a game boy. It really was a problem for us. But we were pretty young and ill-adept at communicating well.

I'm glad some other people have learned to deal with it in a healthier manner. Good luck to you.
posted by lizbunny at 4:23 PM on May 28, 2012


I think it's nuts that some people here are saying DTMFA or just walk away or lay down an ultimatum. It's a relationship! How realistic is it that she'd just end it without trying constructively first to make it work? It's not realistic.

OP, I'm wondering what your ideal evening and weekend would look like. Pretend video games didn't exist, he'd get home and... and what? What do you see yourselves doing? What do you do yourself in the evenings? Do you fee like you would cook dinner together and eat and then chat a bit and then go do separate things? Would you kick back together and watch tv? Go for a walk? Or would you maybe sit down and read or do some work or something else that required your attention and he'd go do something else? Because often that's what happens. I think most people are OK with a mix of together and separate rather than just being joined at the hip for the night. We all need some space and personal time.

I'm betting you wouldn't mind if he were doing something else, just something that left him more accessible than the games do. Like if he were reading or tinkering in another room for example, you could walk in and ask a question or tell him something or have a conversation and then both go back to what you were doing - - but you can't do that with the games because he is totally engrossed and absorbed and uninterruptible. And you feel neglected, shut out, and unwanted? Am I right? If I'm right, you're not saying he has to spend all of his time right there engaged with you, which could make anyone feel smothered, just that he be accessible to you at home in a way that the games don't allow.

That will be a tough sell but is an opening to the conversation. Use the classic, "When you do X, it makes me feel Y," technique. And talk about how you would rather your relationship work in the evenings and weekends, using examples. And ask him what he thinks and feels about it. If you're not married, couples therapy might be more than either of feels comfortable doing, but when these kinds of things don't resolve for married couples, therapy can often help each person better understand the other's perspective and expectations. It has saved a lot of marriages including friends of mine. But somehow you have to find a way to speak clearly about how you feel and what you want in a non-accusatory way and ask for help in taking a new direction that can work for both of you.

There have been other good suggestions here about time limits per day, planned finite sessions, etc. Those could be some compromises. But you first need to establish that you want to do something to make the relationship work and confirm that he wants to do something to make the relationship work. If you can't get that kind of pledge from him to start with or if ultimately you all can't reach an agreement on how you both want your relationship to be, then you can consider some of the more terminal suggestions above. I don't think you'd be asking the question if one of the possibilities was that you could get used to things being this way, but there is plenty of work to be done between here and a possible parting.
posted by Askr at 7:18 PM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you've already discussed this with him and he's still like this, I'd dump him. You deserve more out of life than this. Do you want to be 70 years old and look back and realize you've actually spent your life alone?
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:47 PM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, just a data point: I know someone who's SO did exactly what you describe here: Just got up and went straight to the MMOG all day. After a couple of years of ignoring their partner in favor of the MMOG, the SO in question quietly left the relationship.
posted by ignignokt at 7:24 AM on June 15, 2012


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