Relationship!: The Game (Probably WON'T Supplant Hungry Hungry Hippos)
July 12, 2013 11:20 AM   Subscribe

What activities/questions/elements would YOU include in a [card and/or board] game meant to serve as part of the "maintenance work" of a romantic relationship?

Working on/talking about relationships kinda blows, yet it's also kinda essential. It's like the flossing of interpersonal relations. I've been joking with my partner about creating "Relationship! : The Game" for a while, and now I'm working on actually DOING so. However, I'd like a more thorough picture of the things that SHOULD be included in such a game. What sort of things would YOU include? For reference, here are some elements I'm considering:

- Affection Rodizio Card: when the card is placed green side-up, it means "I'd like more physical affection, please"; when placed red side-up, it means, "No thanks, dude, I'm good on touch".

- Painful Honesty Full Release: one partner is allowed to rattle off a list of five or ten minor issues which have been bugging them... BUT they must do so while providing the other partner with some much-desired service (giving a backrub, cooking an excellent dinner, buying them a sweet trampoline online, etc).

- Goal Interpolation Extravaganza: each partner is given a piece of pre-labeled graph on which they chart their progress on various couple-centric and personal goals. The graphs are then overlaid and lines that provide the straightest path through the most goals are drawn and discussed (e.g., "We'll work on getting you into grad school, but we're ALSO gonna work on getting an embryo into my uterus, okay?").

So what elements would YOU put in this game?
posted by julthumbscrew to Human Relations (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The "Take Care of Me" card. On one side, you say that you need to be pampered, looked after, asked if you need anything. On the other side, you want to thoroughly pamper, look after, or take care of your partner.
posted by xingcat at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2013

Your painful honesty example is a well intentioned but dangerous idea.

When you mix bad news or uncomfortable topics with a positive reinforcement stimuli (pleasure)... you are actually making things worse.

i.e. mommy hugs you and says, "i wish you would try harder!"

Yale Child Psychologist Alan E. Kazdin has done pretty extensive research on this and has shown that it can take a lifetime to overcome bad programming from these events.

When we continue to behave that way as adults, we are basically fucked. our brains start to short circuit because emotionally sensitive topics and pleasure centers start to fight each other for control.

So unless you are really deep in the S&M scene, keep your complaints/annoyances and your praise/pleasure separate.

Also, there was a 70's board game that asked a lot of these questions and it was alternately terrifying and hilarious... just like an actual relationship.
posted by bobdow at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2013 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: Bobdow: whoa, excellent point - see, that's why I asked YOU guys! :-)
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2013

The petty argument rule - the first person to realize that a bicker-fest is based on absolutely nothing must moon their partner.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

Your game needs a talking stick.

Also, a sympathy card. As in, I am going to complain about my day, and instead of trying to either one up or solve my problems, you are just going to say "Yes, that does sounds really frustrating!" repeatedly.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

I would absolutely limit the "Painful Honesty Full Release" to three issues, even if it means you should play the game more often. Someone saving up all their issues, even minor ones, for a one-time dump is just.... not at all productive.

I'd add some sort of "Show Me How You've Shown Love This Week" sort of thing (sorry, I'm crappy with pithy titles). Like, list five things you've done this week to show your partner support or affection (or, list five things your partner has done this week that have made you feel supported or loved).

Some sort of reconnection shared activity? The activity would be non-relationship related, like, Build a fort from toothpicks in five minutes or whatever. Just a quick way for you two to work together on something and reconnect as a team.

Some sort of question about whether each partner has felt balanced in terms of self/partnership/work/whatever else is going on this week. If not, does something need to shift, or are things prioritized well?
posted by jaguar at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

This Is Gross and I Don't Want to Talk About It Please Just Make It Stop Mad Libs

Lately I have noticed that your [body part] is [adjective].


When you [action] on the [location] please [action].

Word bank: butt crack, not-so-fresh, dribble pee, floor, clean it the fuck up
posted by phunniemee at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2013 [14 favorites]

I might do a minigame library type thing instead of one big game. Two Roads Converged: Seeing Your Future, Trust and Reassurance: The Card Game, Rules of War: Conflict Resolution, Sexy Times: The Sexening. That way you can have a number of tight, simple, useful tools available for various stages of relationships, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
posted by Garm at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Correct Answer Card: each participant is given a number of cards in a time period (Three a month? One every six weeks? It is up to you). The card says Correct Answer on one side; the other is blank.

A Correct Answer Card can be used one of two ways.

You can ask a question of the other person (for example, "I'm thinking of getting a tattoo of [whatever thing], what do you think?"), and to make sure the whole thing goes smoothly, you write on the other side of the card what the correct answer to this question is, and hand it to them, so they will at least be armed with this knowledge (as a way of training yourself to understand that if a Big Relationship Question has only one correct answer, and if any other answer but the correct one would upset you, you should not phrase it as a question). Please note that possessing the correct answer to a question does not mandate that the person give that answer, but it's usually a good idea.

Or, you can spend a card to be told the correct answer to a question (for example, "do you think my friend is attractive?" and if there is not a correct answer then you get the card back and can spend it later if you want).

These are really more ways of building good habits than an actual game (specifically being able to ask for what you want or ask your partner for what they want), but there it is.

Advanced Correct Answer Card rules: If one partner successfully identifies that they have been asked a question that is disguised as a statement (for example, "Ugh, I've gained weight and I look gross"),* they may receive an additional free Correct Answer Card. Since they've identified that they are in fact being asked a question, they may then immediately use that Correct Answer Card to request the correct answer to that question, although frankly if they don't know the correct answer to that particular question, they have bigger problems.

*Note that while society would have you believe this is a stereotypically female thing to do, my experience has been that men and women do it in equal measure.


The Sigh Jar: Each person has a jar somewhere in the house with their name on it. If the corresponding person is ever asked, "What's wrong?" and they answer that nothing is wrong, and if at any point between that moment and bedtime they acknowledge that something is indeed wrong and a conversation happens about what that is, they have to put an agreed-upon amount of money in the Sigh Jar. The amount is doubled if the statement that nothing is wrong was preceded by any amount of sitting around and sighing. At the end of an agreed-upon amount of time, the money in either person's Sigh Jar is given to the other person, and the game resets.

The Sigh Jar is a tool for encouraging honest, forthright communication without making the other person jump through hoops, but it is also a way for one to remind oneself that one is being sort of silly, and should be treated in that context. If the Sigh Jar becomes a deadly serious Thing at any point, the game ends. At that point, the funds in both Sigh Jars are combined and that money is spent on something for the both of you. If, at that point, there is more money in one Sigh Jar than the other, it is not permitted to mention that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:13 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

There's a "game" out there called the Ungame. It's basically just a bunch of cards that give the people playing a subject to talk about.
posted by Candleman at 5:32 PM on July 12, 2013

posted by yeolcoatl at 7:44 PM on July 12, 2013

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