So you’ve finally fallen in love with the geek of your dreams. All those misty montages you dreamed of while searching for that special someone will finally come to being: both of you staying up at all hours playing WoW, sharing a bucket of popcorn during Ironman 2, both reaching for the same comics issue and giggling as your hands touch…
But wait. What’s that you say? It’s not as easy as all that? Conflict? Wait a second…
It’s true. Having fallen in love with and married another geek, I have to say just because we hold a great many hobbies in common doesn’t mean that we get along all the time. In fact, sometimes our geeky hobbies are the direct cause of our duress. After wrestling with my husband over the XBox last night, I thought I’d profile a few of the most common conflicts in a geek relationship and offer some advice as to how to steer through them.
1 – Console Conflict. For some reason this hasn’t happened in a while, but has caused a bit of strife in recent weeks in my household. I’m still working my way (again) through Dragon Age and have finally hit my stride, while my husband just purchased Red Dead Redemption (which I have every intention of playing as soon as I finish saving Fereldan from the Blight… and possibly purchasing some of the expansions). The only way to deal with this is to be mutually adult about the situation as much as possible. Once the kiddo is in bed it’s a matter of scheduling: we map our our time and allow equal play. That doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally sneak in extra minutes when we can, but I think both understanding the draw of a game we can be sympathetic to each other.
2 – Fandom Conflict. We love our fandoms. But what do you do when you discover your boyfriend has a “Team Edward” shirt? What happens if, while cleaning out the closet you find a lovingly put together scrapbook of Imperial paraphernalia? I mean, you always had her pegged for the Alliance. What now?
Well, there’s no easy answer there. There’s no rule that says you have to like the same stuff, of course—but you shouldn’t let what you don’t understand get in the way of your relationship. I think some geek couples labor under the delusion that they need to be perfectly in sync to work things out. But the truth is, you might actually like something new or at least find some entertaining facet in an unexpected place. In any relationship it’s important to give and take. Remember that sitting through every episode of True Blood or Transformers (depending on your taste, of course) could win you points in the future (not that it’s about points, but you get my drift).
3 – Attention Conflict. Many geeks start their lives in relative isolation. It’s not that we want it that way, it’s just that in those early years there may not be a lot of people to hang out with (at least, in physical form). Even in college I lived a very solitary existence, and I had my own schedule with my own, long learned habits. When the honeymoon stage wore off with my then-boyfriend now-husband, it was a little difficult to change my ways. I missed my alone time. When you’re in a relationship there’s definitely more pressure to go out and do things. Which isn’t always a bad thing.
What it comes down to is making sure we’re both aware of when we need some chill time. Whether it’s uninterrupted game play, a block of two hours to write, or an evening planning the next dungeon crawl, we definitely work to give each other the space necessary. No relationship can survive without air, without room to breathe. Of course, there is such thing as too much space, but it’s up to both of you to work for balance. Every couple is different.
4 – Cuisine Conflict. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. I was admittedly horrified with some of the food my husband ate when I first met him. Nutrition is essential for good health, people. For a while he delivered pizza and I worked at Starbucks, and let me tell you, that was not a healthy combination. It’s important to be a geek in the kitchen, too. We have access to so much information and it’s our responsibility to take care of our bodies. Too much caffeine, sugar, and junk food can really take its toll. If you need to do an intervention, do so lovingly. It’s likely he might not give up the Mountain Dew altogether, but helping to make healthy choices will be a lifelong benefit.
5 – Family Conflict. So you’re from a geek family, but your partner isn’t. It’s perfectly fine to go on at length in front of your parents about the season finale of Lost or your theories of time travel in the new Star Trek film. But your partner, not so much. In fact, their parents really don’t encourage the whole “geek” thing and would much rather that they just move on to something that is a whole lot more status quo.
This is where you can make a difference. As long as your partner is comfortable with the idea, it might be time for a geek-intervention with the parents. Bring over your Wii or The Settlers of Catan, bring over a few flicks, show them footage or a transcript of Wil Wheaton’s PAX keynote speeches. They might not ever get it, but if you’re going to be in a long-term relationship with their child it’s important to establish that this is who you are, and you’re proud of it. You’d be surprised to find just how many geeky tendencies even non-geeks have. Granted, it might take a little coaxing, but done the right way they’re sure to get some perspective.