I have the unique position of being both the significant other who both didn’t play and now does. This provides an interesting point of view on
the touchy business of mixing two passions without neglecting the other. Please don’t take this as tried and true relationship advice but the following tips may help improve or enhance what you have.
The One-Gamer Couple
Being the one left behind, left out, ignored or confused by the acronyms and jargon is never something one wishes on one’s self. Your love is obsessed with mythical creatures, funny sided dice and having his/her friends over late into the night disrupting your sleep and/or those of the children. Books left everywhere and notes scribbled on napkins litter the place. While these people invade your space they ignore your pleas for attention and leave you frustrated and lonesome. Here are some ideas on how to cope.
1) It’s not about you: Think of a hobby you adore. Gamers have the same passion and often spend a lot of time thinking, doodling, planning and scheduling their games. When they don’t answer your every word during a game it’s because they’ve immersed themselves into a world of fun and adventure. Having to stop a game is abrupt and disruptive to the action. You wouldn’t want someone walking in front of a television while you were watching a favorite show. It’s very similar. If I have questions, a comment, or problem I’ll politely tap my sweetie on the shoulder, apologize for the interruption, and explain why I did. This is preferred to loudly announcing that they are ignoring you and are more into their silly game than you. Planning a game takes a lot of effort, time and scheduling. Don’t ruin it.
2) The mess: Face it. Tabletop RPGs involve lots of space. Table to play on; room to spread dice, books, notes, figures, maps, and snacks. Places to put everyone’s coats and bags. Clean the bathroom and kitchen. Make sure you agree on a designated spot for gaming and gaming supplies. It’s the gamer’s responsibility to keep materials contained within this spot or its fair game for cleanup. It’s easier to keep material out while working on it instead of having to put away every time, so allow this small bit of leeway.
3) Get included: No one wants to be left out completely but know your place (as horrible as that sounds). I made apple pies and dice bags for my RPGs friend before I gamed. Knowing every time they open their bag they’d be thinking of me was a way to be included. Leave time for visiting before, during, and after the game rather than interrupt mid-session. Ask questions about the game, trust me gamers LOVE to talk about it! That’s how I learned what all the silly slang meant. Make an effort to be included without excluding the game itself.
4) Try it: Worse thing that could happen is you hate it and stop playing. Remember no one is going to make you do something you’re uncomfortable with. Just think how awesome it’d be if she went to a wine tasting with you or he wanted to go see a that girly movie. You’ll immediately have their attention. Make sure if you honestly don’t like it not to make up an excuse like it’s stupid or someone is making it bad. It’s really not for everyone and doesn’t reflect badly on you if you don’t enjoy it.
Be patient with each other. Remind yourself that your pookums isn’t out at strip clubs and it’s cheaper than drug rehab. Compromise where you need to. If I want leeway with something I do all the time then I have to give as much as I take. If it’s truly cutting into time together then sit down and talk about it. Don’t try to cause trouble during game and don’t pretend it’s something else. Like everything in a relationship it’s all give and take.
The Couple Who Games Together
That delightful and blissful state of togetherness! But this can be a slippery slope! Your boyfriend the DM just made your character loose health? Your wife’s cleric’s spell just swallowed your soul? Things that happen inside of games can cause issues outside if you let them.
1) Remember it’s a game: Don’t take it personally if your dwarf was left to be eaten by slugs because hot shot over there had to rush down the corridor to save the princess. Flirting between PCs is not flirting between the people playing them (though it could be if it’s between you two *winkwinknudgenudge.*)
2) Keep your space: While it’s fantastic to game as often as you can remember there can be too much of a good thing. Be sure to schedule time alone with your friends. He may want to play a playful game of Maid but she wants to have a Death D&D campaign. Don’t worry if you can’t play every game together and cherish the ones you can. There’s one game I play in where I’m not available most nights. I play my real life boyfriend’s in game girlfriend who’s constantly getting kidnapped. I’ll call or text him mid-game with clues from the GM as to where he has to look to save my PC. This creates all sorts of fun and good plot twists.
3) Use it: One of our favorite dates is a local coffee shop. We take our dice and our notebooks and talk games. We’ll discuss current campaign, ideas for upcoming ones, PC/NPC relationships, and other people’s gaming styles. Having this common bond is precious and should be enjoyed.
4) Have fun with it: Roleplaying lovers with your actual lover usually leads to after game fun and lots of laughing. Be sure to know the comfort level of the other players before you start making out though. There have been times I’ve had to sit myself across the table and out of reach just to make sure I focus on the game and not his pretty eyelashes. And seducing the GM, while encouraged, doesn’t always produce extra resource points.
It’s a game and should be treated as such. Just remember that for most gamers it’s a big deal and will take up a lot of time, space and effort. Like any other hobby be willing to work with and around it. If used wisely it can enhance your relationship. Gaming supplies are fantastic gifts and RPG books read together can be a sweet bonding experience. Even if you aren’t into it do what you can to encourage it in your significant other. Believe me they will appreciate it and you ever so much for it.