For over 5 years I lived with a gaming addict. This is my personal story.
When I met Joe (not his real name) he seemed like a good guy. He was caring and funny. We would do things together. But each night he would sit in front of his computer. I didn’t realize at that point how his addiction controlled his life.
Weeks passed, then months, and I saw how much the computer and his virtual life meant to him. He felt like his friends online were his real friends. He knew things about them, and felt connected to them. It drew him in every evening.
I would hear him yelling at the computer. He would be getting mad because his virtual friends didn’t like his gaming style, or he got the group killed.
World of Warcraft (WoW) was his first game of choice. He played it each day as he needed to keep up his numbers. It kept him coming back over the years. The new extensions had him talking about them every day.
He Wanted Us to Game Together
Well that wasn’t the case. He got bored because I wasn’t at his level. I on the other hand, couldn’t sit in one spot for 10 hours a day. Joe would sit a lot longer than that. He had his step dad start the game, and then his mom. So now there were two others who played. At dinners with his family they would just talk about gaming.
His gaming progressed to Rift, and League of Legends (LOL). I am sure there are more games he played, but I stopped trying to keep track. Joe even watched live streams of a couple who played games. The games just never ended.
One night I asked Joe if we could set up a weekly date night. I had to pick a night he wasn’t in a WoW raid. That was tough. He would do a date night, but sometimes he would say I need to cut it short as the guys want me to join their raid.
I was always second to his computer and virtual friends.
I remember once just wanting to smash the computer with a baseball bat. I hated the fact I didn’t matter. My anger took several years to get to this point. I am a patient person, but even I was running out of patience.
Joe would sleep all day and be up all night. Things around the house were being ignored. I took care of everything. I was turning into a mom. I had to nag him to do anything.
It was like dating a kid. Even when we did do things the talk was always about gaming. I began to tune him out. It would seem like I was listening, but it was a lot of head nodding and not a lot of talking from me. When I did talk, he appeared to care, but couldn’t remember what I said.
Joe ate, breathed and slept gaming. 24/7 gaming was apart of his life.
Eventually I said it’s the computer or me.
He said, “I need to be in this raid… the guys really need me.” I knew then that this was much bigger than me. I couldn’t help Joe. We went to counseling twice. He wouldn’t go after the counselor said to him you have a great smart woman here who just wants to love you and spend time with you.
He Lived in a Virtual Life.
I began to live my own life. He was more like a roommate. Sex never happened. We never slept in our bed at the same time. He made me feel worthless and I felt helpless.
Once his mom said to me, “oh in a few years you will want him to go and game, to leave you alone.”
In my mind I said, “nope, not going to live a life like this.” I longed for him to just spend time with me and to love me. I couldn’t understand what was so wrong with me. Why he wouldn’t be with me even once a week for a date night.
I went to Alberta to see my sister in 2014 and it was the first time I was away from him. That is when I saw my sister and brother in law having a healthy loving relationship. I knew that things couldn’t continue this way anymore. I decided during that trip it was over.
In the months to come after the Alberta visit I decided to tell Joe. He wasn’t happy. He couldn’t believe I wanted more. After all what was wrong with gaming?
Gaming made me so angry, so hurt, so frustrated. I cared about Joe still. Did I love him? Not anymore. My love turned to resentment. I now actually had pity for him. I felt sad that he thought those people liked him that they were his friends that they cared. I felt sad he would settle for such an incomplete life.
I Am Now Married. Joe Lives with His Parents
He is still gaming. I knew I wanted more. I wanted to see life that is beyond a computer. To feel the sunshine on my face to feel the rain on my cheek. To get my hands dirty in the garden.
I married a guy who is present, who lives a life here in this world. Not a virtual life.
For those struggling with a partner who is gaming, my advice would be to look at what you want in life. What are the pros and cons of staying with your partner? Seek the support of a counselor.
In the end, you need to decide what you want for your life. What do you want from your relationship? What are you missing out on?
It’s a tough choice to move on. If you do, do it for you. It’s a personal choice to leave someone whom you care about. At what point do you begin to lose yourself? At what point are you no longer going to be second best? Those are all the things I thought about when I made the decision to leave Joe.
Life is so sweet when you are with the right person. Don’t settle.