What to Do if Your Partner Won't Stop Playing Video Games

It's perfectly normal for your partner to enjoy playing video games. However, a problem occurs when they start to neglect you. What can you do about it?
What to Do if Your Partner Won't Stop Playing Video Games
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 02 April, 2023

“My partner won’t stop playing video games”. This is a phrase heard many times today. Moreover, it often hides a more serious problem than might initially be thought. Video games are powerful sources of entertainment. As a matter of fact, in certain cases, they can even provide psychological benefits.

There are many couples who share a passion for gaming. However, there’s usually one of the two who shows a more intense predilection for spending time in front of the screen with the control in their hand. This can cause disagreement, arguments, criticism, and even ultimatums.

Indeed, the dynamics that occur within a relationship when one partner spends most of their time on any activity, thus neglecting their loved one, takes its toll. Therefore, it’s not necessarily a problem for millennials only, it’s a frequent reality that’s worth exploring.

What to do if your partner won’t stop playing video games

When someone mentions that their partner won’t stop playing video games, it’s common to instantly visualize a young man with a console. Yet, in reality, women often also have the same passion.

One interesting fact is that spending hours playing video games isn’t something that’s socially perceived as worrisome. Indeed, there’s no shortage of those who point out that “It could be worse, they could be drinking” or “At least they’re at home with you”. These expressions don’t provide solutions, they’re insulting and unhelpful. In fact, one of the most important aspects of a relationship is the time that partners share together. But, this means quality and meaningful time, not merely sitting on the same sofa with one partner not really there.

When this situation lasts over time and there are no changes, the relationship suffers. It’s the kind of problem that requires greater interest and understanding.

How do you feel when your partner spends too much time playing video games?

You might reach an agreement with your partner in which they agree to dedicate a limited time to playing video games so that you can do things together later like watching tv, going out for dinner, or even just talking. However, you may soon realize that they’re not doing what they agreed.

When the same behavior is repeated day after day and there are no changes, it’s common to experience a series of psycho-emotional realities:

  • You feel ignored.
  • It feels as if it’s more important for your partner to spend time in front of a console instead of being with you.
  • You feel unappreciated and even unloved.
  • You wait for changes that don’t appear.
  • You’re disappointed as many of your plans aren’t fulfilled. For instance, going out to dinner, going to the movies, watching that series you’ve been waiting to see.
  • You have the feeling that, even though your partner is sitting next to you on the sofa, in reality, they abandoned you long ago.

Could they be suffering from an addiction?

When we talk about addictions we often think of substances such as drugs. However, the compulsive need to play video games is a behavioral addiction. Moreover, it’s an increasingly common disorder.

Studies conducted at the University of London (UK) indicate that, although it’s true that, for a long time, little attention was paid to it, this is a mental health problem of serious importance.

Therefore, if your partner won’t stop playing video games, you should assess whether or not they seem to have a real behavioral addiction problem. Here are some dimensions of their behavior that you should pay attention to:

  • They seem happier playing video games than doing any other activity.
  • They’ve stopped socializing or doing any other activities. In fact, they spend most of their time playing video games.
  • They neglect their other responsibilities. For example, housework, care of their partner, children, or pets, and they eat while playing, etc.
  • They play at night.
  • When you ask them to stop playing and spend time with you or do some other activity, they get angry.
  • Their family and friends also complain about the excessive time they spend playing video games.
  • They claim that they’re only going to play for a few minutes or half an hour, yet play for hours. 

What can you do?

Lack of control over playing video games and neglecting other spheres of personal life… These are the main indicators of an addiction. Therefore, if your partner shows any of these signs, it’s important that they request psychological help.

This isn’t just behavior that occurs in adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18. Video game addictions also occur in the adult population and have a high impact on family and couple relationships. In these cases, approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy are the most suitable.

If your partner won’t stop playing video games and is neglecting you, you must talk to them and ask for change. You must reach an agreement on their playing time. They must comply with it, pay attention to you and your relationship, and show they’re capable of leading a normal life in which they dedicate time to non-screen activities.

On the other hand, if they don’t meet these requirements and they’re not willing to make any improvements, you should assess the possibility of whether or not you want to continue in the relationship. In reality, these kinds of situations occur far too frequently today and must be attended to.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sarah M. Coyne, Laura A. Stockdale, Wayne Warburton, Douglas A. Gentile, Chongming Yang, Brett M. Merrill. Pathological video game symptoms from adolescence to emerging adulthood: A 6-year longitudinal study of trajectories, predictors, and outcomes.. Developmental Psychology, 2020; DOI: 10.1037/dev0000939
  • Pontes, Halley. (2018). Making the Case for Video Game Addiction: Does It Exist or Not?. 10.1007/978-3-319-95495-0_4.
  • Pontes, H. M. (2018). Making the case for video game addiction: Does it exist or not?. Video game influences on aggression, cognition, and attention, 41-57.
  • De Muro, G. E. (2020). Nuevos Paradigmas en Salud Mental: Adicciones Comportamentales Mediadas por Nuevas Tecnologías Como Prevalencia de Patología Dual (Bachelor’s thesis).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.