This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Bonnie Weil.
If you’re dating a gamer, you’re already all too familiar with the sleepless nights because your partner staying up late, button-mashing on a handheld controller and staring in front of a flicking monitor.
You’re not alone and the numbers are impressive: As a planet, people spend three billion hours a week gaming. What’s even worse is that a new study claims that the majority of men would choose video games over sex.
Sure, gaming can have positive benefits, but if you feel like your man is part of that statistic, you may be second fiddle to his virtual world. Your partner may even be facing a behavioral addiction — and you could be the victim of an “affair.”
According to VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, out of 1,442 UK men who were all in long-term relationships, 49 percent said they would chose video games over sex. In addition to that, 19 percent of guys said it would depend on the game.
It’s true, we don’t think of gaming the way we traditionally think of infidelity, but any time your partner spends time and energy on something in a way that detracts from the relationship, that’s an affair. Excessive gaming has its roots in the same imbalance that causes things like drug addiction, alcoholism, financial infidelity and other addictive, obsessive behaviors. When you look at it that way, gaming can be an affair — it takes the place of love.
People who struggle with addiction — whether it be gaming or sex — suffer from a biochemical craving for connection. They crave what they’re addicted to and they’re looking for something to help them escape and give them a thrill.
This escapism can easily take the form of a video game — that’s kind of the whole point. The alternate worlds and experiences lend themselves to thrill-seeking behavior.
The problem is that it’s a vicious cycle. People who are struggling with a need to connect seek escapism, which rewards them for a while but they end up just needing more and thus feeling even more disconnected!
It’s safe to say that it’s dangerous to sacrifice your personal relationships for a hobby. The key to avoiding such destructive behavior is communication and I instruct my clients who are dealing with addiction to engage in this kind of dialogue with their loved ones:
- Detach from emotions.Try not to let responses be emotional, but rather focus on the facts and the truth.
- Set boundaries.With a gamer, they may need to quit cold turkey, or just re-balance their lives. It is so important to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to expectations about what needs to be done about the hobby or addiction.
- Have fun together.Make a list of the fun things you liked doing when you first met. Substitute positive addictions instead of negative. Of course, doing relatively easy things like exercising together, having sex more often and cuddling are good places to start. These things will cause the same adrenaline release people get from gaming.
Couples should utilize these skills whenever they feel like gaming is beginning to eclipse their relationships. It’s important for you to not let the stress get the better of you and to keep engaging in honest conversation.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jun 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Experts, Y. (2013). Could Playing Video Games Be a Form of Cheating?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 3, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/06/22/could-playing-video-games-be-a-form-of-cheating/