I grew up with video games in our home. My Mom and Dad both played video games.
My first video game console was the Atari 5200. I could spend hours playing PacMan and Donkey Kong trying to get to the next level.
When we weren’t at home playing video games, my older brother and his friends would trek to the nearest arcade to spend our quarters on the arcade version of games. The boys would always underestimate my skill-level, but I was able to hold my own against who ever wanted to play me.
I moved about the arcade from machine-to-machine in search of the endorphin high that comes from successfully defeating a game no matter how many times it took me to play the same thing over and over and over.
Until I got older, I didn’t know that many girls don’t enjoy or play video games. I attracted friends who were equally skilled at either video games or other games.
When I became involved with men, they played video games as well. It never seemed strange to me. My very first boyfriend and I would spend hours playing video games and challenging him and his friends. They admired that he had a girlfriend who didn’t “freak out” about video games.
As an adult, my focus and prowess of playing video games lessened. I started to focus on other things and had less time to spend trying to beat a level. I left the video games to my boyfriend and only joined in when I felt the urge.
And, then I met the man who would change everything I believed about video games.
I started referring to his X-Box as his Mistress.
I agreed with him when he wanted to setup his “man cave” in the basement of the house we shared. He setup the television with multiple gaming consoles, comfortable chairs and there was a refrigerator down there which I kept stocked with beer. I assumed it was a little haven for him and it didn’t bother me as I spent the majority of my time in our bedroom which I setup as my sanctuary.
In the beginning, he would spend hours down there then miss me and come upstairs to see what I was doing and reconnect. We would talk and eventually decide to watch a movie together.
Sometimes, I would join him to play games, but again, my stamina didn’t match his. Once I lose a few times, I lose interest and want to come back another day.
Besides, I had a game I was playing on my laptop that was devouring all of my time and focus while I rested in my bed. I was essentially doing the same thing, but on a different medium.
I don’t know exactly when it took a dark turn, but I began having to go to the basement to ask him if he was coming to bed.
At first, he would acquiesce and turn the game off. He would recognize that he was missing out on an opportunity to spend quality time with me.
But, slowly, I would ask and he would say, soon.
I would lay in the bed and an hour would pass before I felt his weight in the bed. Then, it became two hours until I could roll over and put my hand on his chest. I didn’t want to nag him, but I also feared it was getting out of hand.
Then, one night, I fell asleep and woke up with a start to realize I was alone in the bed.
I looked at the clock and it was 4 a.m. I went down to the basement and there he was getting ready to restart the level and not looking like he had any intention to come to bed. An argument ensued.
At first, I joked about the console being his Mistress and that was enough to curb his playing and get him to come spend time with me. He felt bad about not coming to bed for a little while.
But, then he was right back to clocking, sometimes 12 hours playing one game. And, even though I love video games myself, I suddenly felt pitted against it. I felt jealous. I didn’t even want to play video games I loved because I felt like I was competing for attention against them.
I would lay in bed by myself while he spent all night chasing some false success on the video game and essentially ignoring the damage it was doing to our relationship.
Suddenly, I was a girl who disliked video games. I rolled my eyes at the mention of a new video game.
It took my Dad to say something that helped me put the situation into perspective. He still plays games to this day, but when I explained the situation to him, he responded, “No grown man should be spending 12 hours playing a video game. I would love to play all day, but I have a wife and responsibilities.”
When my Dad said it, I knew this wasn’t my problem to get over. The video games were being used as a distraction and blockage to the intimacy I deserved. It was unreasonable to think I should spend the night in the bed alone or be ignored throughout the day to advance on a gaming level.
This game was no longer a game.
I discussed the problem with him in a way that finally opened his eyes to how he was using it as a barrier between us. He admitted that it was excessive.
We devised a plan for how he could spend the hours he wanted gaming, but also be present when I needed him. We cut out the not going to bed with me. That was a deal breaker. And, he promised to check in with me every couple hours and to spend some time talking to me.
Then, I was given the power to demand time when I noticed it was getting excessive and he would turn the game off until the following day.
What I noticed is once we had the discussion and enacted the plan is that he started naturally spending more time with me.
He still played, but it wasn’t as dire as he used to make it. He would neglect his Mistress for days at a time. And, the flip side is that I wanted to play games more often when the tension was gone. We even bought another gaming console for me.
The problem wasn’t the games. We both loved the games. It was how it was used as a distraction and avoidance that created an issue between us. Once we committed to stop avoiding each other, the game became just entertainment again and a Mistress no more.
Image and Article credits : The Good Men Project