Are Video Games Ruining Your Relationship? Take These 7 Steps

Emotional Stress | | , Expert Blogger
Updated On: February 7, 2024
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Trouble is bound to rear its ugly head in your relationship. Be it jealousy issues because your partner talked to that one person in the party a bit too long, or trust issues because of something that feels like a betrayal. While those problems — albeit major — are pretty common, there’s one recent issue that doesn’t surface easily but is far more complicated to solve: a gaming addiction. If you find yourself wondering “Do video games ruin relationships?”, there is a chance you may be one of the rare couples grappling with this unusual yet pressing issue. It may sound absurd right now, but it’s definitely a possibility.

But is a gaming addiction really a problem since your partner isn’t technically doing anything wrong? It’s not like they’re cheating or being abusive, they’re just stuck to a screen for hours on end. However, once gaming starts taking precedence over the relationship, the negative effects start trickling in.

For starters, the other partner may start feeling neglected, and the emotional connection may suffer as a result. Think about it, when a video game addiction starts dictating how your partner spends all their time, you’re going to feel left out, aren’t you? Let’s talk about video games ruining relationships, and put things into perspective with a rather distressing account from an afflicted spouse, one of our readers, who calls it a “video game marriage”.

Video Games Ruining Relationships: What Exactly Does It Mean?

First things first, let’s get on the same page about what exactly we mean by video games “ruining” relationships. If your partner plays video games every once in a while, and they make sure that their hobby does not negatively affect you (for example, by not canceling dates with you so they can game), there’s no need for a divorce over video games.

In such cases, a constructive conversation discussing their hobby might be enough to put you both on the same page. It may need a bit of empathy from both of you, and you may need to consider the fact that your partner has the right to exercise their personal time the way they wish to. Talk it out and try to find a solution somewhere in the middle.

On the other hand, if their day involves spending five to six hours glued in front of their screen, avoiding all their responsibilities as a partner, and ignoring you in the process, you might have a case of video game addiction on your hands. The negative effects can be drastic. You may feel lonely in your relationship, the emotional intimacy might dwindle, and the lack of quality time might lead to resentment, and that can be the final nail in the coffin in most cases.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that, in the most extreme cases, a divorce over video games is entirely possible. In fact, according to a survey by Divorce Online, partners putting gaming before the wives was considered as “unreasonable behavior” and a reason for divorce. In 2018, Divorce Online received 200 divorce petitions where addiction to Fortnite and other online games has been cited as one of the reasons for divorce.

video game addiction
A video game addiction can damage your relationship

In situations where the video game addiction is blatant and extremely damaging, it can also be termed as a type of cheating on the relationship. It’s known as ‘object cheating’ and involves one partner suddenly spending all of their time on a new hobby. As a result, they barely ever speak to their partners and stop showing an interest in them.

Video games and relationships make for a tricky concoction. While the whole act of gaming is usually met with disdain, it doesn’t really turn into a problem until the hobby starts negatively affecting the other partner. The latter seemed to be the case for one of our readers who sent in their story to us, sharing how her husband often ignored her for gaming. Read on to find out what she went through.

A True Account Of Video Games And Marriage Problems

Melissa, a reader from Oklahoma, talks about her “video games marriage” and the constant problems she faces because of her husband’s addiction: There are many perks to being married to a much younger man. Life is never dull, and the virtual world is just a mouse click away. Unfortunately, that made me a “video game widow”.

I have spent innumerable nights while he games and games well into the dawn. If it were outdoor sports, he would eventually tire out or it would just get dark. But, much to my displeasure, online gaming never ends. I have watched dinners grow cold, date nights fizzle, and plans slide into oblivion. I have languished in anguish, the forgotten wife, while I wait “ten minutes more” for yet another game to finish.

Related Reading: 23 Little Things To Make Your Marriage Stronger Everyday

First, there was WarCraft for multiple players. Each weekend was a gaming marathon, with the entire team overall day and night. At least, we always had the best internet connection. Then came Counter-Strike, a bloody game of shoot to kill. Soon our little girl knew all the guns in the armory, watching the screen in rapt horror as blood spattered across it after a kill. Guns fired well into the night as my brain circuits fired up with them, and I became the enemy.

Things got worse with DOTA. Now, this was a whole new league. Online gaming, multiple players, and entirely virtual. All the previous obstacles vanished: time, space and geography didn’t matter anymore. Thinking of offering some support in our relationship, I doggedly tried to join him in gaming since I couldn’t beat it out of him. I never got the hang of it.

DOTA was a huge addiction for him. There are documentaries about the game, about the international world championships, and what a huge phenomenon it is (yes, I had to sit and watch, he was so keen for me to share his joy). We even had a serious chat about his quitting work to game full-time and win the big prize money. This idea was mooted, as the average player is 17 years old with mightier reflexes. Despite being beaten regularly, my husband never let go of this crazy idea.

I would tell my friends, “My husband plays video games all day, and I am starting to lose it.” I earned a reputation for being the scary wife. I either yelled at him and his friends all over the open mic or I went into cold sulks. Neither helped. The sulks meant he just gamed more. The yelling made them all laugh harder, until one by one, they all got married. One guy now games with his baby on his lap.

Did I mention the special gaming laptops, the fancy gaming mouse, and the complete ban on using the net while a game was on? My husband would rather play video games than spend time with me, and on top of that, he’d ask me to not use the internet and spend an exorbitant amount of money on his consoles. Of course, the emotional intimacy suffered and it felt like I couldn’t tell him anything anymore.

I have tried banning gaming at home entirely. And I am always suspicious when he docilely falls into my plans to go out. Unfortunately, I have caught him sneaking out at 3 a.m. to game at the dining table. Online gaming is endless and I think I want to leave my husband because of video games.

Related Reading: 5 Reasons Why Intimacy Among Couples Fades And How You Can Prevent It

Video Games Ruining Your Relationship? Here’s What To Do

Whether you’ve got gamer boyfriend problems, or your husband plays video games all day, dealing with it may seem like an uphill task. Now that you’ve seen just how severe it can get like in Melissa’s case, let’s take a look at what you can do so you don’t end up saying, “My husband would rather play video games than spend time with me!”

After all, putting up with a partner who prioritizes a game over you can be crushing. Imagine this: you’ve had a rough week, things didn’t go your way, and all you were looking forward to was lazing around with your partner, talking about dream vacations you may take someday. But when Friday night rolls around, all you find is your spouse glued in front of the screen, invested in their video games to the point where they don’t even know what’s happening around them.

We get it, it’s an extremely frustrating situation to be in. It feels like you’ve lost your partner to a few silly games, and their behavior when you force them to get up couldn’t be more childish. As a result, conflict resolution seems like a distant dream. It’s true that video games ruin relationships, and yours could end up being one of them if you don’t do anything about it. Here’s what you must do:

1. Communicate the problem

You may have already dropped hints about how much you hate it when they become zombies in front of their screens but make sure they understand the gravity of the situation. Getting upset and screaming, “Soon you’ll be saying “My wife left me because of video games” and there’s nothing you can do to stop it!” is not going to help anyone.

Instead of getting angry, try to tell them exactly what bothers you, why it bothers you, and how big you think the problem is. A gamer may scoff at the idea that their gaming habits are affecting their parenting or the relationship, and that’s when you need to tell them about the damage that has already been done. Chances are that the gamer is blissfully unaware of the level of your disdain, so it’s best to have this conversation as soon as possible.

Explain to them that your relationship is suffering as a result of their gaming and that if you continue to drift apart at the pace you are, things may go south very quickly. Once they’re told just how bad things are, it’s possible they’ll start initiating change themselves.

2. Use “I” statements and watch your tone

So you’ve decided to talk to your partner about the issue of video games, great! However, what’s more important is fighting right in a marriage/relationship. It’s about the tone and statements you use during this conversation. It’s important that you don’t sound hostile toward your partner, as that’s only going to make things a lot worse.

Instead of “All you do is play that damn game!” try saying, “You know you’re really important to me, but I feel so neglected when…” That way, you’ll be focusing on your own feelings instead of partaking in the blame game. It’s obvious how gamer boyfriend problems can annoy you but try to have the conversation without inciting a fight.

failing marriages

3. Understand that you must be reasonable as well

Instead of shouting out “I want to leave my husband because of video games!” try to see first if it’s a salvageable situation, though it’s going to take some teamwork. Also, you can’t just expect your partner to completely give up playing video games since that’s basically like asking a Lakers fan to stop watching basketball.

Though it’s clear to you that video games ruin relationships, try to be a bit reasonable with how you approach the situation and how you try to find solutions for it. The sooner you both realize that you need to work together, the better it’ll be.

4. Do not stonewall your partner

When it becomes painfully obvious that video games and relationships rarely go hand in hand, you may lose patience and give up on your efforts. You’ll stonewall your partner to oblivion, and all they’re going to do is process (or run away from) the negative feelings by – you guessed it – gaming.

By stonewalling your partner, all you’re going to be doing is causing communication problems in your dynamic. We know that this ‘gaming relationship’ is the last thing you wanted, but understand that resolution is going to take a bit of time, and stonewalling will help no one.

Related Reading: 18 Top Unhappy Marriage Signs You Need To Know

5. Be assertive

Say you both decided that the gamer is going to limit their time in front of the screen and that you’re going to try to show an interest in this hobby of theirs. Once you try to find solutions that you think may work, it’s important to be assertive about them.

Video games ruin relationships but that’s only when couples don’t try to find solutions to the problem, or even when they do, they may not stick by them. Tell your partner that you’re more important than their games and that you’re not going to be the only person fighting for the relationship.

6. Become their player 2 – literally!

If gaming is a hobby that’s somewhat manageable for your partner and it hasn’t taken over their lives, you can even consider joining in with them. Who knows, you might just find out that you’ve got a knack for it as well, and playing games together can be a great way of bonding.

According to a study, 76% of couples who played video games together said that it had a positive effect on their dynamic. Of course, you might not be able to hop on the most difficult games your partner plays, but there are definitely more fun games like ‘It takes two’ or ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ that you could try out. Who knows, you might have your very own gaming relationship as well.

7. If nothing else works, relationship counseling can be the antidote you need

When video games ruin relationships, it can often feel like there’s nothing you can do to fix it. Your partner’s addiction may get the better of them, and it may seem like there’s no way out. Before you call it quits, make sure to give relationship counseling a go. With the help of a professional therapist, you’ll be able to understand the core issues in your bond and figure out what you both must do to get back to a healthier relationship. If it’s help that you’re looking for, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help you understand how this addiction can be tackled and what you need to do about it.

Hopefully, with the help of the points listed above, your dynamic won’t reach a place where you exclaim, “My wife left me because of video games!” Sure, it may look like an impossible hurdle to overcome right now, but once you both realize that you’re in it together, there’s nothing that you can’t overcome. Perhaps you can take a leaf out of the gamer’s book and employ their ‘never give up’ mentality. How ironic!

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