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I received an email this week from a fan who’s having a bit of trouble with her relationship. She asked me “are videogames killing my relationship?” and after digging into the topic, I found that a lot of people are in similar situations and asking the same thing. 

The story always starts the same way. Girl meets Boy. Girl and boy enter relationship. Everything seems perfect. Boy plays videogames occasionally, nothing out of the ordinary. The relationship progresses. Girl notices that Boy spends more and more time on videogames, less and less time on her. It gets to the point where she doesn’t know what to do. Of course, sometimes the gender are reversed.

UNDERSTANDING VIDEOGAME ADDICTION

Video addiction isn’t considered a medical condition, like drug addiction or sex addiction. However this doesn’t mean it can’t be an addiction. There’s no hard and fast rule for defining what videogame addiction is, but there are certainly symptoms you can look out for.

  • You play an excessive amount of videogames everyday
  • Your mood is reliant on whether or not you’ve played videogames today
  • Consistently prioritising videogame playing over basics such as eating and sleep.
  • Getting withdrawal when you haven’t played recently
  • Consistently prioritising videogame playing over other forms of socialising, such as going out on dates, or meeting friends and family

I do want to mention that there is a difference between liking video games as a hobby and passion, therefore spending a lot of time playing it, and actually being addicted to videogames. The best way to decide whether it’s addiction or not, is to simply look at how it effects the other aspects of your life. This includes your personal health, as well as your social life.

Sometimes videogame addiction can be caused by other underlying problems, such as depression. Having a videogame addiction doesn’t mean you have depression however. If you think this could be a cause, then there are other things you can do.

HOW VIDEOGAME ADDICTION AFFECTS YOUR PARTNER

When you are caught up in videogames, it’s easy to lose attention to those around you. It’s important to understand videogame addiction, but equally important to understand how it affects your partner.

Firstly, your partner is probably feeling lonely. If you are spending time playing videogames, to the point that you prioritise that above spending time with your partner, then you’ve probably haven’t been spending enough time with them.

If you are playing videogames, and your partner is in the same room as you doing something else, that doesn’t count as spending time with them. Yes, you are sharing the same space. However your attention isn’t on them. It is very easy for them to then feel neglected.

Progressing from that, your partner can also end up feeling second best. If you are constantly picking to play videogames over spending quality time with them, that is the impression you are giving them.

Feeling second best then also builds up to feeling unwanted and unneeded. No one wants to feel that way. Of course, you do want them, and you do need them, but what you need to do is show them that.

All of these feelings can build up. On top of feeling lonely, your partner can also feel anxiety, anger and confusion. Non of these are healthy and they will affect your relationship.

WHAT VIDEOGAME ADDICTION CAN MEAN FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP

When someone in a relationship starts to feel neglected, second best, unwanted or unneeded, problems are going to arise. These are feelings no one wants. They put a strain on the relationship, cause arguments and can even end a relationship.

If your partner has brought up their feelings on the matter, and if you’ve argued over it several times without coming to a solution, then things are looking pretty bad. After all, there’s only so long a person can stay in a relationship where they are feeling unloved.

It’s a serious consequence, and if you think you have a videogame addiction, you can’t avoid or ignore the warning signs.

SAVING YOUR RELATIONSHIP

The relationship can be saved. However it isn’t easy. It means the partner who is addicted to videogame has to understand that they have an addiction, and want to change. If that’s your partner, at the end of the day, you can’t force them to change. If it’s you, you have to want it for yourself.

The easiest way to decide if you want to truly change, is to decide which is more important to you. Is staying with your partner and keeping your relationship more important to you that playing videogames? Of course, everyone wants to say yes to this question, but really look, and decide if deep down that is what you want. Because if it isn’t, you should tell your partner.

Now you don’t have to go cold turkey on videogames. Instead, try and figure out a good balance between playing videogames and everything else in your life. Talk to your partner about expectations. How much time do they want to spend with you? How much time do you want to play videogames for?

SPENDING TIME TOGETHER + GOING ON DATES

Make sure you arrange dates with your partner. Make sure you don’t cancel them last minute to finish a quest. If you are living with your partner, it’s easy to make time together. Why not start off by deciding to eat dinner together every night. Follow through with your agreements.

Very importantly, when you are spending time with your partner, or your friends, or your family, give them 100% of your attention. Don’t spend the time on your phone watching youtube videos of gameplay. If you’re bored, or agitated, it’s going to come through.

Try instead to enjoy yourself. If you’re not enjoying yourself, your partner probably isn’t. When this happens, talk to each other. Communication is so important for making a relationship work. Talk it out, come up other activities to do together than you will enjoy. That doesn’t mean gaming together however. Leave videogames completely out of these plans.

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