Five Tips for the Conflicted Geek Relationship

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.

Photo (and adorable little crafties) CC by bainav.

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29 Responses to Five Tips for the Conflicted Geek Relationship

  1. Great article! I am curious though, how did you and your husband meet? Did you know each other before hand or did he ask you out cold? I'm currently single and would love to meet a geek lady like yourself, so I could use some inspiration. :o)

  2. Great article! I am curious though, how did you and your husband meet? Did you know each other before hand or did he ask you out cold? I’m currently single and would love to meet a geek lady like yourself, so I could use some inspiration. :o)

  3. Hah! That’s a long story, and a very geeky one. But basically we met on a MUSH. Playing hobbits. That was ten years ago. :)

  4. Ahh, I know some of these. We still can start a multi-day argument over the better Star Trek series (My TNG vs his DScrap), and we've been having that argument for 9 years! Now we just own the complete series of both, and we do agree that Star Trek V shouldn't exist, but I don't like III and he's a trilogy completionist. Fortunately, I've gotten off console gaming lately, but that's mostly due to him hogging it in reality! My family is the geeky one, and his we just avoid, most of the time.

    Chris: I met mine in college watching Voyager and X-files on dorm TVs in common rooms. He's the only reason I stuck with the X-files during the Doggett years!

  5. Ahh, I know some of these. We still can start a multi-day argument over the better Star Trek series (My TNG vs his DScrap), and we’ve been having that argument for 9 years! Now we just own the complete series of both, and we do agree that Star Trek V shouldn’t exist, but I don’t like III and he’s a trilogy completionist. Fortunately, I’ve gotten off console gaming lately, but that’s mostly due to him hogging it in reality! My family is the geeky one, and his we just avoid, most of the time.

    Chris: I met mine in college watching Voyager and X-files on dorm TVs in common rooms. He’s the only reason I stuck with the X-files during the Doggett years!

  6. That's awesome! I've heard of LARPs, but never MUSH's before now. I'm in the unfortunate situation where I'm out of college after my first long term relationship didn't work out, so I'm starting over again at 28. Unless I get any Match or eHarmony bites, it's left to random chance of seeing somebody at a bookstore or something, and geeks like me are notoriously bad for walking up to strangers and getting a date. :o)

  7. That’s awesome! I’ve heard of LARPs, but never MUSH’s before now. I’m in the unfortunate situation where I’m out of college after my first long term relationship didn’t work out, so I’m starting over again at 28. Unless I get any Match or eHarmony bites, it’s left to random chance of seeing somebody at a bookstore or something, and geeks like me are notoriously bad for walking up to strangers and getting a date. :o)

  8. I met mine 12 years ago. He said he was hooked when I said the magic words, "I program in Java." ;)

    I'd also add to the list – be aware of the duration and intensity of your partner's games, and plan your own gaming appropriately. For instance, don't start a League of Legends game right before it's time to put the kids to bed when it's your wife's raid night (not that I would know from personal experience… ;) ) Similarly, if I'm daily questing and he's in a SC2 match, I need to remember that I need to answer the phone, not him. Believe it or not, this has caused a lot of conflict in our marriage as we have tried to figure this out!

  9. I met mine 12 years ago. He said he was hooked when I said the magic words, “I program in Java.” ;)

    I’d also add to the list – be aware of the duration and intensity of your partner’s games, and plan your own gaming appropriately. For instance, don’t start a League of Legends game right before it’s time to put the kids to bed when it’s your wife’s raid night (not that I would know from personal experience… ;) ) Similarly, if I’m daily questing and he’s in a SC2 match, I need to remember that I need to answer the phone, not him. Believe it or not, this has caused a lot of conflict in our marriage as we have tried to figure this out!

  10. hehe… I’m still in my college years, but these stories really give me hope for my geeky future. I’ll remember these tips.

  11. I am going to let my girlfriend read this. Even though we've been together 7 years, we still have some of these problems. Not that it is overblown of course.

  12. I am going to let my girlfriend read this. Even though we’ve been together 7 years, we still have some of these problems. Not that it is overblown of course.

  13. Duerma- Your addition to the list is soo true! Me and my husband have mini-fights daily about that! Our way of keeping the fights to a minimum is to only have one of us gaming at a time. The other person can choose to play if they want, but with the understanding that they will have to leave their game if something needs to be done. It works for the most part because we have 3 kids, and even though they are showing their geekiness early (all three love playing video games), they still need their play time outside, so thats left to the parent who isn't gaming at the time.

    All of the points in this list I have encountered myself, especially the attention one! We have fixed that one, by gaming together after the kids go to bed lol. Great list!

    BTW me and my husband met when we were 12, and were friends for awhile and then started dating when we were 16, then married by 20.

  14. Duerma- Your addition to the list is soo true! Me and my husband have mini-fights daily about that! Our way of keeping the fights to a minimum is to only have one of us gaming at a time. The other person can choose to play if they want, but with the understanding that they will have to leave their game if something needs to be done. It works for the most part because we have 3 kids, and even though they are showing their geekiness early (all three love playing video games), they still need their play time outside, so thats left to the parent who isn’t gaming at the time.

    All of the points in this list I have encountered myself, especially the attention one! We have fixed that one, by gaming together after the kids go to bed lol. Great list!

    BTW me and my husband met when we were 12, and were friends for awhile and then started dating when we were 16, then married by 20.

  15. This was pretty hilarious and accurate. Way too close to the daily trials and tribulations of me and my husband. It's frightening. Get out of my head!

    But well done!

  16. This was pretty hilarious and accurate. Way too close to the daily trials and tribulations of me and my husband. It’s frightening. Get out of my head!
    But well done!

  17. Its funny and scary reading this. Atleast I know that we arnt the only ones :p

    Me and my Husband have gaming fights all the time (even though i may secretly love watching him play some games). But we play Halo and MMO's (jumping between a few atm) together so its all good.

    I am not sure how much of a SiFi geek he was before i got a hold of him bcs I had to fight to get him 2 watch Star Trek. We ended up stuck and he watched it with my parents and now he is hooked. Since than we watched the entire voyager, V, Dollhouse, and doing the rest of star trek TNG now.

    I come from a geek family and he doesnt :p

  18. Its funny and scary reading this. Atleast I know that we arnt the only ones :p
    Me and my Husband have gaming fights all the time (even though i may secretly love watching him play some games). But we play Halo and MMO’s (jumping between a few atm) together so its all good.
    I am not sure how much of a SiFi geek he was before i got a hold of him bcs I had to fight to get him 2 watch Star Trek. We ended up stuck and he watched it with my parents and now he is hooked. Since than we watched the entire voyager, V, Dollhouse, and doing the rest of star trek TNG now.
    I come from a geek family and he doesnt :p

  19. My husband and I are pretty compatible, only I'm more geeky than he is (except about philosophy) and more into various fandoms. We've established that we'll watch the stuff we both like together and I'll either watch the other things I like on my computer or on the tv when he's not doing serious work (it's hard because he's writing a dissertation & we have a 1 bedroom with an open dining/living room area so he can only hide in the bedroom).

    That's worked pretty well.

  20. My husband and I are pretty compatible, only I’m more geeky than he is (except about philosophy) and more into various fandoms. We’ve established that we’ll watch the stuff we both like together and I’ll either watch the other things I like on my computer or on the tv when he’s not doing serious work (it’s hard because he’s writing a dissertation & we have a 1 bedroom with an open dining/living room area so he can only hide in the bedroom).

    That’s worked pretty well.

  21. My fiance and I are complete geeks. But we do have very different tastes as geeks.
    I'm a physics major who would rather laugh at a funny use of physical properties than read web comics. And he's a computer scientist who love internet videos.
    I always used to game on a PC, he got me into getting a consul. So when we get married, we are going to combine 2 42 inch Plasma TVs, and 2 xBox 360s (Mine's the Elite).

    And, Chris if you want to know about my story. My sister set us up. They met in college and he seemed like my type, so she made us meet. A week later he asked me out, and we've been together ever since. That was in 2006.

  22. Nice article, my husband and I have some of the same issues. We've been married 3 years, he works as a manager at gamestop and we run an anime convention. So we are pretty geeky.

    I often get the console, since he often doesn't play right after work since he's sick of hearing about games. How far are you in Dragon Age? It's a great game, I just finished my 7th play through. Go team Alistair!

  23. These are right on the money. My hubby and I often have to "discuss" responsibilities vs. gaming. The good thing is that we stay open to the other's fandoms and try to give each other the space we need, though having a two year old often conflicts with that.

    And how we met is just as geeky as we are: We met as a gaming shop. He was running a 3.5 DnD game, and I was learning how to play (while hanging out with my ex bf who worked there and didn't want me playing DnD because of "religious" reasons, yeah).

  24. Great article! I'm still mid-way through college and haven't really clicked with anyone yet. Not really into meeting anyone at clubs or bars and no luck online either. :(

  25. Great article! I'm still mid-way through college and haven't really clicked with anyone yet. Not really into meeting anyone at clubs or bars and no luck online either. :(