The Latest From E3 Won't Help Couples Cultivate Relationships, But May Cause Affairs

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News from the Electronics Expo (http://wapo.st/Kjb4x4) shows developments in gaming include more action-based video games that have players moving to play (http://bit.ly/Ldoo7z) or games that may prepare you for the work place (http://read.bi/KOQPxe). Therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil says while games can have positive benefits, they can also be an addiction and a relationship wrecker.

Positive news is coming from E3 in regards to games that have people get up and move, or prepare them for other aspects of their lives (Washington Post, June 6th http://wapo.st/Kjb4x4). But Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil points out that there is a detrimental downside to gaming. As a planet, people spend three billion hours a week gaming, and the average young person spends 10,000 hours gaming before they turn 21.

"Anytime someone spends more time and energy with something or someone else than with their loved one, that's an affair," says Dr. Bonnie. She says that gaming has its roots in the same imbalance that causes things like drug addiction, alcoholism, affairs, financial infidelity, or any other kind of addictive, obsessive behavior. "In this sense," says Dr. Bonnie, "gaming can be an affair - it can take the place of love and romance."

People who struggle with addiction - whether it be gaming or sex - suffer from a biochemical craving for connection. They're looking for something to help them escape and give them a thrill. "This escapism can easily take the form of a video game; the alternate worlds and experiences lend themselves to thrill-seeking behavior. The problem is that it's a vicious cycle," points out Dr. Bonnie. People who are struggling with a need to connect seek escapism, which rewards them for a while but they end up just needing more and thus feeling even more disconnected!

Dr. Bonnie encourages people not to sacrifice their personal relationships for a hobby. "The key to avoiding such destructive behavior is communication," says Dr. Bonnie. She instructs her patients dealing with addiction to engage in Smart Heart dialogue with their loved ones.

*People should provide planned space to engage with their partner, and hear and validate their partner's feelings. Truly listen to the other person and repeat their thoughts and concerns back to them.
*Detach from emotions – try not to let responses be emotional, but rather focus on the facts and the truth.

  • Set boundaries. With a gamer, they may need to quit cold turkey, or just rebalance their lives. Dr. Bonnie stresses the importance of couples making sure they're on the same page when it comes to expectations.
  • Have fun TOGETHER - make a list of the fun things you liked doing when you first met. Substitute positive addictions instead of negative. Dr. Bonnie suggests doing things like exercise together, have sex more instead of gaming, and cuddle. These things will cause the same adrenaline release people get from gaming.

Couples should utilize these Smart Heart skills whenever they feel like gaming is beginning to eclipse their relationships.
It's important for each person to not let the stress get the better of them and to keep engaging in honest conversation.

Surviving a gamer: video games aren't sexy, I am!

To read more about saving your relationship, check out Dr. Bonnie's book, Make Up Don't Break Up. And see her talking about the mind/body connection here: http://youtu.be/vOIomp6CHSo

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