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I would like to ask for advice about my current situation, my girlfriend (26) and I (31) have been together for 2 months now and we really have lots in common and always have a great time together but! I am an IT guy so I am into technology very much and currently own a Nintendo Switch.

I really quite enjoy some video games (like Hand of fate 2, dark souls, doom, etc..), it is a way to entertain myself, to clear my head a bit after work and I do not play much at all, around 6 hours per week and some weeks I do not play at all.

The thing is, she despises video games from the bottom of her heart, her position is quite radical. I do not get why, when I try to explain why I like to play her answer is something like "-video games are for freaky and creepy nerds-" and that's it! I cannot discuss any further about it, she just doesn't hear me at all.

I could just sell my console and not play anymore, but I would like to first try to make her understand me, since she does not give me any reasonable answer about it so I would like to ask for some advice:

How can I explain to her that it is something I enjoy?

Thanks a lot in advance.

Edit:

To add some more details about it, our relationship is pretty new and this is the first major disagreement we have had so far.

I have tried so little to be honest because she just does not want to listen, like really, she just says things like "no no, that's for creepies, for smelly nerds" and stuff like that, I have tried to explain to her:

  • That it is no different from watching series or movies (which she does).
  • That I only play in my spare time when we do not meet normally after work and would never prefer to play instead of meeting her or doing something together.
  • To explain that it helps me to clear my mind after work.

I actually tried to show her and explain a video game once and after 20 seconds she told me "are we going to do something else?" and that was it, I just turned it off.

I was quite surprised because our communication is very good actually, we have discussed important matters openly in a very productive way, but with this topic she gets just too aggressive.

Thanks again for your answers.

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    Based on what you know about your GF so far, what do you suspect the endgame of this situation would be? She actually comes to like video games or merely tolerate your liking of them? Is her extreme view of your hobby a potential deal-breaker further down the line? – user8671 Oct 24 '18 at 9:42
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    What did you try so far? You said that you tried something, but have failed to include it. I think there are many, many possible ways here - most of which will not be fitting to your situation for various reasons. Also I'm sure you are aware of the most obvious ones yourself. So it would be nice to know what you've tried, why you think it has failed and so on. It would also be nice to know how you handle other topics on which you disagree, but given such a young relationship, it might not have come up much. – Raditz_35 Oct 24 '18 at 10:03
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    Thanks for the edit. What exactly is your goal now? What is the issue? The way I understand it now is: You play games, she thinks very little of gamers, you want to show her that it's a valid form of entertainment. Is that all? Is she keeping you from playing games? Is her liking games perhaps a condition for you for the relationship to continue or are you just concerned that she will see you as a nerd? This is in principal a pretty common problem in relationships I've encountered myself - and every couple needs to negotiate their own solution. – Raditz_35 Oct 24 '18 at 15:31
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First of all - it sounds to me that the issue here is that there is some aspect in your life that your girlfriend would not hear out and not "video games". So if I got this wrong - please let me know.

A common approach that has worked for me is scoping this directly:

I care about you and want to have a relationship which we both share our feelings and be open and vulnerable with each other. When you say that computer games are for "creepy nerds" I find it hurtful because I really value you and your opinion. It makes me feel not accepted and am judged.

Then contrast it:

I know you care about me and I enjoy spending time with you. I think we have a very positive relationship and I enjoy it. I really want to be at a point where we accept and encourage each other. I have hobbies I enjoy and I really want to be able to talk to you about it and feel safe with you.

And follow up with an invitation to dialog:

Can we sit down and talk about what bothers you about computer games? I promise to listen and hear you out.

Then listen and hear her out. Do not attack her criticism even if you disagree - do not validate it either but validate her feelings.

Here are some examples things that she might be feeling:

  • She might feel computer games are stealing you from her.
  • She might feel you are dedicating time to things that harm you.
  • She might have negative pre-conceptions of computer games.

Really - we don't actually know what she is feeling or why her thoughts are coming from that place. That's why dialog and honest communication is so important here in my opinion.

This is really not something that you need to judge but rather something for you to work out together on. If she has negative pre-conceptions challenge those in a way that does not challenge her and makes her understand you accept her even if she does note accept your love of video games.

The goal here is to improve communication with her in general and encourage safety. There are two issues:

  • She does not like video games - this is fine. My wife doesn't like computer games either (I love them). She told me after 10 years of marriage that she was being defensive because when she was young her parents didn't get her computer games because she was a girl and she was envious. She's more open to gaming now. (Your girlfriend's experience might be different).
  • She is having a hard time debating a touchy subject with you. It is very important to work on this! This sort of issue will inevitably show up in a relationship. Be non-judgmental and accepting - modelling the behaviour you want to see from her and hear her out.

It is great you want to figure this out and work on it. Build up safety and trust and make sure this is a conversation and not an argument.

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    Awesome answer Ben! One thing I'd add is that OP might be a little in the wrong here too. If they work 9-5 and go to sleep at 10, that means they have ~3-4hrs free time after work every day and ~10hrs a day on weekend days = ~40hrs of free time a week. That means that 6hrs of video games is ~15% of their time. So to say "I do not play much at all," the OP may not be seeing things from the girl's perspective like she's not seeing from his. – scohe001 Oct 24 '18 at 13:22
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"-video games are for freaky and creepy nerds-"

You play video games. Does that make you a freaky and creepy nerd? I'm not sure I would really like that accusation (and generalisation) from my SO.

I do think that this gives an avenue to explain this to her though. Ask her about that reasoning.

You're suggesting video games are only for creepy nerds. If I like video games, would you consider me a creepy nerd? I'm only playing a few hours a week, it doesn't define who I am, it's just something I enjoy doing.

At that point, she can either stay to her views and effectively judge you as a creepy nerd, or maybe start to understand that the world isn't so black and white.

The latter of course is the preferential outcome, but the former also tells you a lot about your SO and your relationship.

4

It is quite normal for a happy, functional couple to have different interests and enjoy different things. The secret to a successful relationship can be more about how you deal with differences than about the things you have in common. We are all individuals.

From my own experience: my wife and I have a number of things we like to do together - activities out of the home and things we both like to watch on TV. I have a few nerdy interests of my own that she isn't interested in; likewise, she has hobbies and interests of her own. If I say I want to spend time doing something she doesn't like, she sees that as a chance to do her own thing, and vice-versa. I think that is quite healthy. If she has ever complained about me doing something she doesn't like, for example watching Doctor Who, I just jokingly say "it's my 'football'", which she finds funny and totally understands. It is so common that men spend time away from their wives and girlfriends watching/playing football that it's a cliche. Personally, I can't stand football, and I've found making that connection helpful because my wife knows from the experience of her friends that this is "normal".

So your girlfriend not liking video games while you do like them is neither unusual nor a problem in itself. The problem is really how she deals with this. It seems like she actually opposes you playing them to the point that you feel you have to stop.

My first suggested approach is to see if you can soften her stance towards them. You need to find out:

  • Is it video games themselves that she is opposed to, or does she just dislike the time you devote to them? (which, if you're being honest, isn't that much)
  • If you had a different interest - say, sports - would she allow you the time to devote to that?

If you already do spend time doing other things that she is not interested and do not encounter any resistance then you already have an answer to these. If not, just ask her outright:

Is there another pastime that I could do instead of playing video games? If I joined a gym or a football team, would you be okay with that?

Make sure you use an example of something she would not want to accompany you on. You need to determine if it is just video games she objects to, or the time apart.

You may need to call her bluff and actually do something else that takes you away from her for a time - maybe play a one-off game of sports or something. See how she deals with it.

If you are sure it is just video games then try reasoning:

You say video games are for nerds. Well, do you think I'm a nerd? Do you think I would change who I am if I stopped playing video games? Don't you love me for who I am anyway?

If after all this you come to believe that she is just being clingy then you need to talk this out too. Not to escalate this too much, but if she is just "jealous" of the time you spend on something without her, she may have some deep-seated insecurities that could even call for a bit of counselling. But don't be too alarmed - many younger people, as well as people of any age in new relationships, can be a little insecure. Make sure that as well as spending time on your own hobbies and interests that you make plenty of time to do things together as well. Reassure her of your feelings as often as you can. If she doesn't have any hobbies or interests of her own, encourage her to find something. And if she does, show an interest in it. In my own experience, a comparison helps my wife understand my enjoyment of something she doesn't like. If your girlfriend won't even discuss video games, getting her to relate to your interest by comparing with an interest of her own, or maybe even another common male interest that she does understand, is a way of "discussing it without discussing it" and might even help soften towards video games.

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    Why does his girlfriend get veto power over his hobbies? If they were married, and his hobbies were expensive, that's one thing, but that's not the case here. – swbarnes2 Oct 24 '18 at 17:40
  • @swbarnes2 I don't think she should. I've made it pretty clear in my answer that her approach may not be healthy, assuming everything the OP says is correct and he isn't spending excessive time on it. – Astralbee Oct 25 '18 at 7:59
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    @Astralbee thanks for your answer, it is pretty helpful I am definetly taking some good points from it, cheers! – JCO9 Oct 25 '18 at 8:09
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    The trade-off doesn't even have to be at the same time. My husband is a fencer, and I found fencing pretty boring, but he really wanted me to show up to his weekly fencing matches to watch him compete. So we made a deal. After I spend several hours watching a bunch of sweaty guys poke each other with metal objects, he spends the one hour drive home running me in a little private role-playing romance game. Win-win. We each "pay" a little to get a lot. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Oct 25 '18 at 18:11
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I'm going to be blunt, it sounds like you aren't really compatible and may need to rethink your relationship. No healthy relationship should require you to justify or defend your interests or how you spend your time - partners should be supportive and respect the differences and unique interests we all have.

I've been in your situation (being a fairly 'nerdy' gamer myself), and I used to pretend that I wasn't so into gaming to seem less geeky to the girls I dated. Then I realised I wasn't being true to myself, and also found myself eventually lying to them about how I was spending my time, which is really unhealthy for any relationship.

By all means try and talk to her about it some more, but it sounds like she's reacting quite immaturely to the discussion, by refusing to engage with the conversation and provide any reasonable justification for her opinion, so the chances of her changing her attitude are quite slim.

  • Since the question is "How to explain to my girlfriend that...", could you edit your answer to explain how OP should try to talk to her? As it is, this doesn't really answer the question. – Ælis Nov 4 '18 at 6:53
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The video games that you mentioned are a bit on the dark side. For people who aren't into video games at all, they can present as quite frightening. There is the tendency to say "what kind of person would enjoy horrible (to me) ideas like this?", focusing on the content, and then generalizing it to all video games, and to playing video games in general. You see the same sort of thing with any entertainment with dark themes.

Do you think you might be able to persuade her to play some kind of on-line game with her, just to show her that it can be fun? Tell her that you understand that there are themes in your games of choice which make her uncomfortable, but that you want to find some way that you can share this part of your life with her in a way that doesn't make her uncomfortable.

Do you have access to two computers so you can play side by side? Find a good social game that doesn't have dark themes and invite her to set down with you, with a box of chocolates as an added bonus, and maybe some wine as well, and make it an electronic date night. Approach it with humor. It's okay to tell her you are bribing her to play with you because you want to share what you love with her.

My personal favorite is World of Warcraft because it is a game that makes it easy to shepherd a beginner through the process. Try to avoid anything "creepy" at first (start as a couple of humans) and make it about using the game to interact with her in an unusual way. Crack jokes, have a good time, don't indicate that you'd rather be playing an undead character or a demon hunter. Don't try to do this in different rooms if you can avoid it because the social element of doing it together may be critical.

I suspect that if you can show her how electronic games can be a relationship enhancer she will eventually become less critical of your solitary games. People are often afraid of the unknown, this will make it less frightening and threatening.

I have had success using this technique for family members and acquaintances who "demonize" video games and role playing games. They often judge the entire genre based on one or two examples with themes that they consider immoral. Once they were able to separate the actual mechanics from the thematic details they became less hostile to the entire idea.

My father was violently opposed to all science fiction, and one day I asked him why. It turned out that the only science fiction story he had read was one which featured nuns and was nastily anti-Catholic. So I wrote him a science fiction short story which had what he considered a good message. After he read that he still didn't see much point in stories that were about things that weren't real, but at least he no longer thought there was anything wrong with science fiction.

Several members in my congregation were quite vocal about role playing games being "tools of the devil". I was pretty sure the only role playing game they had ever heard of was D&D, which explains their objections from a Christian point of view. So during one church "Games and Grub" night I ran a role playing game. It was a superhero themed game where everybody got to save the city from terrorists. It was well received and when one of the detractors objected, I invited him to be a part of the next one. I told him that if he found anything morally harmful in what we were doing I wouldn't run another game at a church event. Long story short, he actually enjoyed himself quite a bit and I haven't heard any of them complain about role playing games since then.

The important thing is to be able to recognize what elements in the game or genre are upsetting to them, and to present it without those elements. Not only to show that it isn't as bad as they previously thought, but also to demonstrate how it can be a positive force according to what they consider important.

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