Lovehacker: How Do I Stop Gaming From Ruining My Love-Life?

Dear Lifehacker, I like playing games on my PC, PS3, phone, Xbox 360, tablet, and any other device I can get my hands on. I also work full time and currently have a girlfriend, but I have broken up with three previous girlfriends because of my gaming habit (Aion: The Tower of Eternity was the main culprit). What can I do to help balance my day and night, and keep my girlfriends? Thanks, Played Out

Bored girlfriend picture from Shutterstock

Dear PO,

If you’re willing to give up a loving companion and/or regular sex for an MMORPG about magical dragons, you clearly need to get your priorities in order. Sure, we’ve all crawled into bed at 3am after an epic gaming session — but if you make it regular habit there soon won’t be anyone in there waiting for you.

Our website contains plenty of tips on how to balance your work/life schedule for a healthier lifestyle (just substitute “work” for “gaming” while reading each article.) You can also pick up some general advice from our post about maximising GTA V playing time — such as using the Pomodoro Technique to keep your gaming bouts small and sweet. In short, schedule time in your calendar for playing and stick to it.
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Alternatively, you could try and get your girlfriend involved as a spectator and occasional co-player. This actually isn’t as impossible as it sounds. There are plenty of video game titles that appeal to non-gamers — the trick is to find something story-orientated with interesting, mature cut scenes and minimal repetition. Mindless action is best avoided, which gets boring fast.

Some recent games that fit the bill include Beyond: Two Souls (a nonlinear drama featuring the voice and mo-capped likeness of Ellen Page and Willem DaFoe) The Last Of Us (a post-apocalyptic tale of survival that puts the player’s emotions at the forefront), and even Grand Theft Auto V (provided you stick to the main missions and keep the random carnage to a minimum). We also hear that Little Big Planet 2 is a big hit with the ladies — so stick the controller in her hand and see if it sticks.

Failing that, our advice is to find yourself a girlfriend who actually likes gaming! These days they’re not too hard to find (just be aware that this can create its own set of problems, such as who’s turn it is to be in charge of the controls).

We also sent your query to ex-Kotaku editor Mark Serrels, who had this to add:

Okay, I am going to give you the slimmest shred of sympathy here. It comes in the form of this awkward hug. Will you receive this awkward hug? WILL YOU? [hugs] Alright. Good. Now it’s time for some brutal honesty.



Really? Video games have caused you to break up with your last three girlfriends? I have a wife. I have a nine month old kid. I have a super busy job. I play video games. It’s not a ‘one or the other’ type ultimatum.

This whole thing is about two issues: priorities and time management. And also self discipline. That’s three things, but I digress: when video games start to infiltrate and ruin your personal relationships with others, that is the point where you have to take a step back and ask yourself a few hard questions.

  • Is this game worth it. [Hint: the answer is ‘no’]
  • Should I be managing my spare time better? [Hint: the answer is ‘yes’]
  • Are real life people more important than video games? [Hint: the answer is, again, ‘yes’]
  • Video games are great, but it sounds like you have either a) not met the right girl yet or, b) spend an unhealthy amount of time in virtual worlds. The key is balance. If you’re playing video games to the detriment of your personal or business life I think you need to make a lifestyle change. And this comes from someone who writes about video games for a living.

Have any of our readers ever ‘converted’ a non-gaming partner? Share your brain-washing tactics with PO in the comments section below.

Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].

This story has been updated since its original publication.

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