My Boyfriend Is Addicted to Gaming

My boyfriend is addicted to gaming

I’m dating a guy in his mid-thirties who is ADDICTED to a Smartphone app game. We have been dating for almost 6 months. His addiction and obsession with this game is becoming unbearable. His gaming caused a rift in our relationship early on and I have brought it up several times. However, his efforts to cut down haven’t been sufficient. I understand that guys like to play games but I feel his case is extreme. A couple of examples to describe the various scenarios:

1. When we dine out — he’s constantly checking and playing the game. I feel like I am dining alone most of the time and resort to killing time with my iPhone.
2. We went on a trip together — he played the game every morning and every night (we paid extra for wifi connection so he could play).
3. We usually talk every night before bed. His game status/progress is usually the topic of conversation.
4. He spends a minimum of 5-6 hours playing this game each day. And, when I confront him, he insists that he doesn’t play THAT much.
5. Before/after sex — he plays the stupid game.
6. I stayed over at his place when I was sick. He was sweet and took care of me but I also noticed that during that time, he played almost nonstop. One night he played from 10pm until 4-5am the next morning.

Since we only dated a few months, I feel like this is the time we should spend quality time with each other and learn more about each other. But, I can’t figure out how to accomplish this if his number one focus is always this game. Every time I confront him about this, he calls me a drama queen.

Is this a big red flag?

Please help…


Dear Kathryn,

“What are you GETTING out of this relationship?”

This red flag is so big that I believe it’s covering your eyes and ears and mouth and brain.

Put simply: what are you GETTING out of this relationship?

(I’ll wait)

Your boyfriend is an addict. His addiction just happens to be gaming. But you can substitute booze, drugs, work, porn, or training for a triathlon (seriously), and you’d be in the exact same place.

The fact that he defends his indefensible behavior by calling you a “drama queen” is indicative of how he’s lost touch with how normal humans interact.

He lets one aspect of his life dominate him so much (in the name of passion) that he loses sight of how it negatively impacts others around him. The fact that he defends his indefensible behavior by calling you a “drama queen” is indicative of how he’s lost touch with how normal humans interact.

It’s not your job to talk to him, try to bond with him or help him rehabilitate. Just let him become someone else’s problem, then find another guy who doesn’t have a crippling addiction.

There’s lots of ‘em out there, I promise.

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  1. 1
    Anonymous Editor

    Please heed Evan’s advice, Kathyrn. I love video games, and I’m an editor of a gaming news website. But it’s plain to see that your boyfriend’s addiction is a huge problem, and he needs to get it sorted out with a professional. Hopefully, you leaving him will wake him up and be the start of his long recovery.

  2. 2

    Kathryn:   RUN!   My ex was like this.   Our initial courtship was he, me, and a Commodore 64 (okay, that dates me!;).   It does not get better.   Do not set yourself up for the heartbreak that is waking to an empty bed and seeing the light from the screen, nor watching a toddler reach out for daddy to interact with him and daddy just turns back to the computer screen.   You deserve so much more. . .

  3. 3

    If you’d married this guy 18 years ago and shared a mortgage, dog and 2 kids, I’d urge to work on the relationship.   As it is, you’ve been with him for only a few months and it sounds like you two have very different priorities.   Why would you even want to salvage this?   To quote Dan Savage, DTMA!

  4. 4

    Run, don’t walk from this guy. I think this is only ONE of many odd things you will uncover, guaranteed. He’s basically having a relationship with you, and his phone. You’re awesome! Move on now and don’t let him waste your time.  

  5. 5

    The posted letter is an extreme scenario and, as such, the likely consensus, even from many gamers, might be “Run like…!”

    Evan, I’d be curious to hear your take on milder versions on the same theme. I was once married to a professional who worked 40-60 hours a week and played 25-45 hours of video games per week on top of that (not counting time spent emailing, surfing the web, researching games, etc.) He was unwilling to plan ahead so we could time his geek night with my girl’s night out, and it was a real drag to go to bed alone and come home to the back of his head and a barrage of flickering light. Weather gaming, or sports or fill-in-the-blank, an interest that consumes that much time per week year round is, well, difficult on a relationship.

    Despite the history, I’m not screening dates based on a “NO VIDEO GAMES!” mantra. I’m making an effort to embrace your sage advice: the new relationship is not the old one. It’s just so hard not to run the other way after having been burned by a certain extreme version of behavior, even if the current manifestation is a mild one.

    Any wisdom on the subject is much appreciated.  

    1. 5.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “Milder”? 25-45 hours of video games/week is “milder”?

      Everything in moderation, my friend.

      Anyone dating a someone that extreme in his/her passions is relegated to second class status. What a waste of time – no matter how cute, smart, funny, whatever. The value your partner gives is TIME. The best partners are the ones who are available – emotionally and physically – not the ones who are the most “impressive”.

  6. 6

    WOW. Kathryn, you are only a few months into your relationship and this is how he is behaving? The first few months of a relationship should be filled with lots of effort and quality time together and getting to know each other. If it is like this in the first 6 months, can you imagine how much worse it’s going to get down the line?

    I cannot believe you tolerate it and have not just got up and walked away by now. He games when you are out to dinner? That is just plain terrible manners, not to mention disrespectful and unconcerned towards your partner.

    I do believe in quite a lot of autonomy within a relationship to do what makes you happy and pursue what you enjoy, as I am pretty independent, but the basics have got to be in place, the biggest of which is plenty of one-on-one time together. It is almost like there are 3 of you in the relationship. I am flabbergasted that his gaming is an acceptable topic of conversation for when you speak every day.

    To put it in context, I am dating a gamer, and this does work for me because it keeps him occupied whilst I am independently doing my own thing, which I enjoy, but allows us to be in the same house together. HOWEVER, he never brings his gaming into our conversations or talks about it with me, he never games when we are out, or out to dinner or spending one on one time together. And he ALWAYS at a certain reasonable time every evening, says cheers to his gaming buddies, switches off his computer and comes and spends time with me. He also takes regular breaks when he is gaming to come and chat to me or hang out with me a bit, in addition to just totally shutting down his game at a certain time every night. He is also flexible about it and is reasonable about it.

    So, I am able to be very supportive of his desire to play games and not have any resentment towards it, because it doesn’t interfere with our relationship. It works for us.   

    But if I started to feel like the game was more important than me or that he was happy to criticise or blame me for being a “drama queen”, I would be out of there!  

  7. 7

    Let me guess, is the game called “Clash of Clans”? Because that the game that my boyfriend is addicted to as well (though I wouldn’t refer to it as an addiction in comparison to your beau’s addiction level). That’s the phone game that I see everyone else playing as well, whether in malls, buses, parks,   libraries, even in my office elevator! Anyway as everyone said, RUN! My ex was a hard core gamer too and I learned that with men like these, you (or any of their family members or friends) will never come first.

  8. 8

    This makes me think of one of my favorite colums:
    A quote from that column:
    “Let’s recover a deeper definition of fidelity. One that will involve ever-so-much more intention, rigor and commitment: Marital fidelity is the promise of “Radical Presence.” Every day. For the rest of your life.
    I promise to be Radically Present. I promise to show up for this relationship, chiefly by promising to show up for my own life. I promise that my “I” will be forever grounded in our “We.” I will cultivate habits that nurture our connection. I will be alert to notice habits that presume upon our connection. Take it for granted. While, on any given day, any number of things might rightly and urgently require my energy and attention, I promise not to allow anything to comprehensively subordinate the primacy of Us.       “

  9. 9

    This is 5 kinds of weird. RUN!

  10. 10

    it does not sound like this guy is offering much in the relationship, and he clearly has a debilitating issue.   many guys like him (obsessive gamers) suffer from untreated adult ADD and possibly OCD . I dated a guy like this and while he did play video games quite a bit, it was a symptom of his untreated ADD in that he was constantly searching for the next subject of hyper focus (via a series of costly hobbies).    Cases like his usually do not get better without the person seeking treatment.  

    1. 10.1
      Katie Lynn

      You are MOSTLY right. My boyfriend’s ADD medication just makes him more addicted to the game! I have ADD as well and my treatment made my VG addiction worse also before I broke it. Now I can manage well. But you really hit the nail on the head with the ADD hyper focus thing. You must have done your reading! Oh yeah and dont forget about untreated substance abuse. My boyfriend also quit his drug of choice which was xanax and vicadin…but he just traded it in for another addiction. Video games are another form of escape…especially WORLD OF WARCRAFT. You get to live in a fantasy world.

      1. 10.1.1
        Suzanne Bonham

        Hi I’m sorry that you both are going through this – it must be tough. I am wanting to suggest or recommend that you watch anything about Teal Swan regarding addictions. I find her information cutting edge and have never heard anything like it before. Basically to describe it in one sentence, it’s not the substance or behavior but the pain behind that behavior that needs to have attention focused at it. It is typically pain from childhood that may not even be consciously recalled. Then when that pain is healed (not so easy I know) but whatever substance or activity just falls away. Otherwise, taking away one substance while the underlying pain is still un-addressed will result in the person simply substituting another substance or behavior. Good luck I really sincerely wish you well.

  11. 11

    My ex was so addicted to his hobby, that I used to call his hobby his mistress.   But I was wrong, his hobby was his wife and first love and I was the mistress.   Never again.   Run Kathryn, run !

  12. 12
    Katie Lynn

    WORLD OF WARCRAFT. This is…has ruined our relationship. I played the game with him for a while and I was so addicted. Thank God we lost the internet for a week. it broke my addiction and I had to make up for failing college grades. for him? we are goin on three years now. The guy will be sitting next to a rotting pile of garbage with knats flying around it and wont notice it. If it was not for me our apartment would become a dumpster, our cats would starve and we would have no outlook on the future because I am the only one in college…..The worst part is, he feels he deserves to do anything he wants and I am not aloud to complain because he is the “breadmaker”. It was his idea that I give up working to go to school full time and I am now trying to get back to work so I can feel like I have a say in what goes on in the apartment I moved HIM into….This is such a serious problem for people…I know from experience in being addicted to games.

  13. 13

    Im having a similar problem, its doing my heading, he has full usage of the tv, and the ps4, he plays it all day most days, if hes not doing that hes with his mates or in work. today i thought right I want some time to watch netflix and put my feet up as its my only day off. I asked politley if he could come of it in an hour so i could have the tv for the rest of the night… nope. F*** off i have a life too. Right well there we are then. I know how selfish he is. I just have to sit here and watch.whatever suits him right?

  14. 14

    I am suffering the same issue with my bf. He doesn’t clean he doesn’t work he’d he complains about taking me out he doesn’t want to do anything with me other then watch tv or Netflix. He swears at me when I tell him he has an addiction. PS4 has turned him into a monster not the person I initially fell in love with and now I don’t even think I love him I am full time college student and waiting for student loans and I will unfortunately have to move out. This makes me sad because I have had to move many times in my life but it hurts being with someone who would rather spend time with their video games then with me.

  15. 15

    I am also experiencing this frustration and essentially am teetering on the edge of kicking my boyfriend out (I’ve been teetering for a year I’d say). He plays video games from the minute he walks in the door from work until usually 3-4am, if working the next day. If not working the next day, he will stay up for sometime 48 hours, until he literally passes out at the desk and falls out of the chair. No joke, I would say he spends a minimum of 60-70 hours/week online, and typically mug more. Oh, he is in his 30s too, and we’ve been together for 4+ years. It’s my house. I support him. He doesn’t clean, cook, buy groceries or household products, spend time with me, help with my son or his own, OR pay/contribute to bills! I am beyond disgusted – he lives in a fantasy world with his “clan” and it’s his number 1 priority. It’s all he cares about anymore. I’ve never dealt with this before to this severity, and am at a complete loss. He didn’t play video games when we started dating…this obsession and addiction began about 2 years in. And I am the irrational one for being frustrated and asking him to tone it back or contribute ANYTHING to our relationship and life…

    Wow. I am a fucking fool. Just writing this out makes the decision quite clear……

  16. 16

    I have a question, ladies. Why in hell would you have any interest in a man who prefers to spend his time in some fantasy world, instead of getting out there and living in (and enjoying) the real world? I guess I must be an anachronism, or something, because I always found real life much more stimulating, entertaining and exciting than some video game universe, but whatever. I think that’s true of most men(and women) in my generation, but then I’m almost 71, so perhaps I and my female counterparts just don’t understand the twenty-first century.

    As for you, Anonymous, so far as I can tell, you are not that guy’s “girlfriend”. To him, you are simply a useful convenience, and if you think he’s using you…you are absolutely right! For heaven’s sake (not to mention your own), grow a spine, get some healthy boundaries established for yourself, and stop enabling guys like this. He isn’t worth it. Get back out there, and find someone to love who will actually love you back. I’m pretty sure you can find one, as there seem to be at least some men in your generation who are actually functioning adult men, not little boys obsessed with their toys and alternate realities who refuse to grow up!

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