My name is Crystal and I just happened upon this site after a lucky Google search of "video game addiction." I'm here because I'm worried my boyfriend may be dependent on video games. I don't want to reach as far as saying he is addicted, even though I'm here, but we don't live together, and with just what I've experienced with him, he doesn't check off enough items from the addiction self-evaluation. He definitely has an attachment that is affecting our relationship though.
My boyfriend works full time and goes to college an hour away from home. I know he's tired, has homework, and just plain doesn't feel like doing much when he's off the clock. I'm 31 and he's 30, and we've only been together a few months, but we fell hard and fast, and I have no doubt in my mind that I've found who I've been looking for. He says he feels the same way about me, and when we're together, I believe him. He made me aware of his love of video games early on in our relationship, and was pleased to find out that I also play. I don't play as much as I did when I was younger, but as a product of the 90's and a former Best Buy employee, the gaming world isn't a foreign subject to me. I really feel like if we lived together, these obstacles we have wouldn't seem so big, because we're both homebodies who really don't care much for going out on the town all the time.
We don't get to see each other as often as I'd like to, as our work schedules conflict most days. However, I really believe there are times we could be taking advantage of, but trying to get him to open up about what he's doing at different times is like pulling teeth. Trying to get anything out of him is that way, honestly. He has made it abundantly clear to me that he doesn't like to plan things, whatsoever. I've found that just one day in advance seems to be too much. He's told me several times that he's stressed, overwhelmed, etc., and I've tried so hard to be a source of relief and comfort for him, and sometimes he'll say that I am. But I really don't know how that could be. I've even made jokes and called him Pen Pal, because our relationship exists primarily in text messages. I feel like he blocks every attempt I make at showing him how much I love him and trying to make our life together easier.
Here's the kicker...we live twenty minutes apart. Both of us had to move back in with our parents recently, due to circumstances beyond our control, which happened before we met. He has told me that being around parents when he's with his girlfriend makes him uncomfortable, and for our age, I can't argue with that. He has said that he's moving in with a friend in a few months, and that I can come over anytime I want then. And he's also talked about wanting us to live together, which is a good sign. But until then, going out to dinner and seeing movies is about the only thing to do in this town, and that's all we have right now, to see each other. I always offer to pay for my own, and we either split the bill or just take turns paying. Most of the time I drive to his side of town, and we eat where he wants to, but I'm not a picky eater, and I honestly feel like if I suggested somewhere closer to me he would likely object.
When we first met and started getting to know each other, we would text throughout the day. Over time, our communication has dropped significantly in frequency, to the point that every day it's "Hey how are you?" "Great!" How are you?" and sometimes he doesn't respond at all after that. I had brought it up, and I've always strived in all my interpersonal relationships to not be accusatory, but rather to explain how something makes me feel. Usually he'd say he understands and that we'd work on it. Nothing would really change much though. That conversation has happened more than once, and one occurrence involved a discussion about him checking his phone multiple times during dinner dates with me, staring at the TV in the restaurant instead of paying attention to me, etc. He told me that sometimes he reads my text and then forgets to reply, but then moments later when confronted about the phone use in the restaurant, he said told me that if a friend texts him he's going to reply right away.
I had also noticed he seems fidgety and almost anxious on dates with me, and can never just enjoy the evening and see where it takes us. He's always in a hurry to get back home, citing homework or something on TV he wants to watch. Last weekend after a quick dinner, I said I wanted to get ice cream, and he just said that he had some at home, and he was sure I could find somewhere on the way back to my house. I told him that I wanted him to go with me, and I got silence.
So after learning that he used to smoke pot a lot in the past I started thinking. He told me that he doesn't anymore, and I believe him, but knowing the love he has for gaming, the pieces all started coming together. He might be addicted to video games. He also denies any possibility that anyone can become addicted to pot, and I strongly believe that marijuana is highly addictive. So he already has a hint of denial there. I brought it up in conversation by asking if he really didn't smoke anymore. I told him I had noticed symptoms of addiction, but that the upside was that gaming wasn't necessarily harming his health at this point like a hardcore drug might, and that I wouldn't make him choose me or the games, because I know how important they are to him. He has explained to me how he suffered from severe depression in the past and the games help with that and provide an escape from problems. He even went so far as to tell me that when he's supposed to be seeing me, if he has to stop a game, he feels like he's being interrupted, and while he's gaming, anything else is just a nuisance. That part was crushing, but he did say that it isn't any fault of mine, it's just the way he is, and I feel like he may have realized the effects of his actions. I explained to him that I understand what the games do for him, but that they can't replace the love of a living breathing person. I believe the games have now started perpetuating any residual depression he may have.
He told me early on that getting married and having children will happen in his life. I asked him then what kind of father he would be, and his answer was "the best kind." Thinking of that gave me the most euphoric feeling, and now it just crushes me because I don't know how we'll get there. I know he isn't doing it on purpose, and he will reassure me that I'm not doing anything wrong, and that it's he who has a problem, and not me. But there are those inconsistencies. His actions don't match his words. It's easy to fire off a text saying what I want to hear to shut me up, but without living it and showing it, those words lose their meaning. I want that life with him. I want to walk down the aisle and see him at the end of it, and I want him to be the father of my children, I really do. Those are things I have never in my life given any thought to until I met him, as crazy as that sounds after having written everything I just wrote. My gut tells me to keep fighting for it, because I know what I'm fighting for, I need for him to fight for it WITH me, not against me.
When I'm with him, even if it's just an hour a week, all of the stuff up there goes away, and I'm one hundred percent invested, and I think he is too. I think he doesn't know how to show it, and I think he doesn't know how to handle it. I've asked him if he could set aside a little time each day or even every other day to just talk to me before he starts gaming. He says he can try to do that, so time will tell. I'll give it a few weeks to see if we have any improvement. Reading the articles here about detachment has helped me a lot, and I have to continue on with my life the way I was before I let him in it. I've also been reading about setting boundaries. The concept seems like something I definitely need to employ, as far as alerting him as to what behavior is unacceptable, and making him suffer his own consequences. I just don't have any specific ideas as to what I would do. We see each other once a week at most, we meet up for dinner, and then we go our separate ways. We text. That's it. My plan is to not text him first for a few days, and to not try to facilitate the plan we made for setting aside time to talk. He knows what I want, I asked for it clearly, now he has to follow through. I'm also not going to tell him what days and times I'm free each week. I've given him my work schedule and explained that it doesn't change, so if he wants to see me then he has to ask me. I'm not going to make it easy and convenient for him to see me. Does that seem like a good plan?
It kills me to even think about doing those things, because I love him so much, and I genuinely enjoy being around him. He always seems to enjoy being around me, aside from the occasional anxiousness I noticed, but I know this is something that I have to do. My biggest fear is that he'll just forget altogether, if I'm not reminding him that I'm here. If one of my friends said that to me about a man, I'd probably slap her, but I just can't help it! I love him and I don't want to lose him. He did say, at the end of a phone call with me after our last discussion when I mentioned addiction symptoms, that he had some reflecting to do. He's a very smart man, so I think he realizes. I just hope with everything I have that his reflection results in a positive stride for our relationship, and not him saying he's choosing his games. I also hope that all the love and support I send his way isn't actually enabling his game dependency further. I'm not at the "accepting that it might end" stage yet. That isn't an option right now! But I do know that it may come to that, and that's something I'll have to prepare for just in case.