The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Significant Others at the Table

Filed under “Problems that used to really concern me but I haven’t thought about in years” is the issue of bringing girlfriends/boyfriends along to gaming.

Back in the 90s (when I was in my late teens and early 20s), this was constantly an issue. As I never had a girlfriend who wanted to see what gaming was all about, it was really tempting for me to take the stance of “S.O.s not welcome.” But I didn’t because, truth be told, some of my favorite people to game with I met because their S.O. introduced them to gaming. Still, for every success story I have seen, I have seen many more horror stories.

The one I saw most often was the S.O. who didn’t have any interest in gaming, but insisted on coming along because if she didn’t, it would mean that she wouldn’t get to see her beau on game night. The presence of such a person at a game table was like a wet blanket. She wrecked the atmosphere through her disinterest. She wrecked the atmosphere by distracting the player who brought her to the game. But most of all she wrecked the atmosphere through the ensuing conflict over how to deal with her.

An even worse case, that I have never seen myself, but have been aware of happening is when the S.O. truely invests herself in gaming, but then, after being fully integrated into the group has an ugly breakup with the player who brought her. Now both want to keep playing, but not with each other.

Now I don’t know how much of all that had anything to do with gaming, or how much of it was just about being young. Its been a dozen years since I have seen any issues of this nature, and in that same time I have seen a number of spouses play, and have been pretty open with all my current players about saying they can invite S.O.s if they wish.

Still, its interesting to reminisce, and I can’t help but wonder if there will be any parrallels when inviting our children to the group becomes a possibility.

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.

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December 27, 2010 - Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs

5 Comments »

  1. My wife has zero interest in gaming and it suits me just fine. I tend to be the gamer who’s seen the horror stories you’ve described and didn’t see any good ones come out of it. So when I got married and my wife has no interest, I consider it more of a relief than a lament. Also, it gives me my own time too instead of doing everything with the family.

    Comment by yong_kyosunim | December 27, 2010 | Reply

    • My wife has waxed and wained over the years with regards to gaming; at times she has really been into it, at other times she has been very – meh. Actually right now we have a little bit of a problem because she wants to get back into it, but we don’t have anyone else to look after our son during the game.

      Comment by The Red DM | December 28, 2010 | Reply

  2. I think it’s strange that some gamers make such a big deal about couples playing together. I’ve seen couples play well together and no drama come of it, and I’ve seen bad break-ups push players out of a game they might have otherwise stayed in. It can be tough to deal with, and sometimes games fall apart because of these issues.

    That said, I’ve seen jobs and school create these kinds of problems just as often. A player could pick up a second job to make ends meet, or their schedule could change and now they’re not free Thursday nights, or what have you.

    It just seems strange to me, that gamers can sometimes get so freaked out at the thought of a girlfriend joining game but no one would ever say, “It’s just safer to have a no-jobs-allowed policy at this table.”

    Comment by Shy | December 28, 2010 | Reply

    • While your point is well taken, that many other things can interupt group, or break groups apart, the reason that many people don’t want couples in their group is that the very nature of romantic relationships is that they are emotional, and can elict all sorts of unwanted emotions from those around them.

      If a player in your group has to quit because his job is keeping him from playing, the group will be disappointed, but otherwise uninvested in the situation.

      If a player brings along an S.O. who doesn’t really want to be there, and whose presence really brings the group down, suddenly the group is faced with a very ugly choice; either they can continue to suffer, and hope the S.O. leaves on her own, or they can eject her from the group – a process made that much harder because of the feelings and reactions of the player who brought her.

      If a couple who are both avid gamers breaks up forcing the group to choose which one they want to keep gaming with, suddenly the group is subjected to unwanted angst.

      I’m not saying the attitude of keeping couples out of a game is the correct one, but your analogy to jobs works only on a rational level, and not an emotional one.

      Comment by The Red DM | December 28, 2010 | Reply

  3. I DM what was once a couples D&D group. Me and my SO, two people who had been dating a bit longer than us and a newish couple. It went swimmingly. Eventually the newish couple broke up and I decided that, rather than risk the group, I’d just let one of the parties know not to come back. The game is still running and we’ve filled his spot.

    Comment by Keith | January 4, 2011 | Reply


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