He won’t share the joystick

Dr. Daley on Sex and Relationships

He won’t share the joystick

game_3.jpg
photo / Sniv 

Dear Dr. Daley: I moved in with my boyfriend about two months ago. We’d been spending just about every moment together before that, so it seemed like moving in together was a great idea. I honestly didn’t think anything would change once we were sharing a place. Anyway, the first six weeks were incredible – no fights, no arguments, we cleaned up after ourselves, we were the best friends/couple we’ve been for years. And then he got into some video game. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t gotten up from his computer since.

We never go to bed together anymore, we rarely have sex, and it takes every ounce of my energy to get him to even go out to dinner with me. I asked him if he’d be more interested in me if I could transport myself into the game, and I was actually serious about it. Some girlfriends get jealous of their boyfriend’s girl pals, but I’m jealous of my boyfriend’s video game.

I wish I had a nickel for every girlfriend who’s playing distant second to a video game tonight. Okay, a dollar. Okay, a hundred dollars. I’d like to buy me an island where there are no keyboards, keypads, cell phones, video games, or checkout lines.

I had a revelation about this during the holidays as I was sitting next to a guy in cabin class who couldn’t let go of his Blackberry. Clearly the most important person on the face of the planet – obviously traveling cabin class to fool his rivals – this man couldn’t be expected to “turn off all personal electronic devices” like all the peons sharing the aircraft. So when the request was made, he simply shoved the yummy little thing into his lap and threw a blanket over the whole scenario. As flight attendants made their way up and down the aisle, he alternated between surreptitious glances at his undoubtedly fate-of-the-species text messages and periods of merely massaging the device. Or massaging something. Under the blanket.

It’s been a long time since I have seen anything so masturbatory in public, but then again, I’m old.

game_1.jpg
photo / David Scott 

Dear letter writer, I’m talking to you now, but in a minute I’m going to address your dearly beloved. If he still remembers how to read, show him this column. Long story short, if a week goes by and he still can’t be pried away from the bloody screen, check the apartment lease. If it’s in your name, place his possessions outside the front door and invite him to follow. If it’s in his name, pack your knives and go. I know that’s Top Chef, but I’m committed to preventing bloodshed whenever I can, and your sweetheart, cute as he may be, is not worth doing time for. You cannot compete with this level of masturbation.

Freud, as you know, believed that sex was at the center of human existence. When we aren’t suffering crushing guilt over it, or re-enacting childhood traumas associated with it, we are dreaming about it, longing for it, denying it, fantasizing about it, forgetting about it, or just plain trying to get us some of it. When our hands can’t be doing the actual nasties to our dirty parts, they are distracting themselves with substitute acts of self-abuse, many of which can be easily observed above the level of the conference table. This is the universe of “displacement upward,” where we play with our hair, fondle our own earlobes, stick all sorts of things into our ravenous mouths, stroke our neckties up and down, up and down….

And play our little video games hour after hour after hour after hour after hour after hour after hour after hour.

It’s all about self-soothing, self-charging, peaks of pleasure, and valleys of release – let’s call it autopotency. With thrills like this, you don’t need anyone else. And when things go badly, there’s always tomorrow. Why wait till tomorrow? Sleep is such a waste of time! Restart! Restart! Restart!

I deal with about 600 women in their early twenties every single year. Many of them are seniors at the Harvard of Central Austin; many of them are lovely enough to take your breath away. Every single one of them smells very, very good. You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear our dear writer’s complaint: No matter what I do, how I dress, whatever naked dances I perform, he’d rather play his video games than have sex.

Men of your twenties (and teens! and et cetera!), there is something very wrong with you. You are supposed to be horny enough to fuck mud. Please! I strongly encourage you to figure out what’s up with this video game thing before some scrumptious Bad Boy gets your girlfriend’s number and volunteers to help her find some relief from her loneliness. And if you don’t care about your girlfriend going off with a new hottie, would you please just cut her loose like a real man?

Lemme tell you a few things about addiction. An addiction is something that feels real good while you’re doing it and real shitty when you’re not. An addiction entails obsession (you think about it all the time) and compulsion (you pretty much “can’t stop yourself” from engaging in the behavior). When you’re doing your addictive thing, you haven’t a problem in the world beyond achieving the next level, the next score, the next buzz. All the foolish little problems of the world (grades, work, money, love, family, bills, guilt, fear, nuclear armament, global warming) disappear.

All you need is your own hand(s) on your own little joystick. Yes! Yes! Yes! Shit! God! Fuck! Aagghh! Holy fuckin’…AAAAGGGHHH!

game_2.jpg
photo / Bjorn Bulthuis 

Assuming you’ve read this far, you may be willing to set aside your habit for a little while, long enough at least to figure out what role this video game thing is playing in your life and whether the price tag is worth it. You may have to stash the Xbox at a buddy’s house, because walking away is not easy. Another defining characteristic of an addiction is that it SUCKS when you put it down. This is because you will be confronted by all the SHIT you have been avoiding so assiduously. For instance those EMOTIONS that real men like you love to mock. (Can you handle it, big guy?)

Your girlfriend has offered us a paragraph depicting her view of your relationship. What, pray tell, is your view? An adult relationship involves two people who care about one another’s needs and well-being. Hell, they may even talk to each other, go out and play together, make choices about frozen entrees, lamps, and their future together. Hell, they may even have sex several times a week.

If none of this is happening, there’s a problem, and it’s about time you got down to it. You and your girl need to have some conversations. A few dates. Do the kind of stuff you did when you first met. If there are some things about her that drive you insane (especially now that the two of you are sharing a place), let her know. If the two of you need a third party to help you figure all this stuff out, let me know – I can point you in the direction of folks who help young couples.

Look at it this way: If the relationship is worth keeping, do what it takes to keep it. If not, cut the girl loose so she can find someone who knows how to keep a woman at the center of his attention. Then you can either get on with your life, or go back to indulging your 24/7 jack-off jones. Either way, you and your girlfriend both win.

About the author Dr. Nancy Daley is a licensed psychologist and adjunct assistant professor who teaches Human Sexuality at The University of Texas at Austin. If you would like to submit questions for her to answer in this column, please send them to drdaley at thatotherpaper dot com.

Recent Dr. Daley columns