Guild Chat: Dealing with the ‘it’s me or the MMO guild!’ ultimatum

Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered readership can band together to help a gamer-in-need with his or her guild-related dilemma. This time, an anonymous reader dubbed ‘R’ has written in with a matter of the heart that threatens his or her MMO enjoyment: While R is very much enjoying the MMO and guild he or she is part of, the demands of the guild are fairly steep and R’s girlfriend is feeling second-best. R is in a predicament where the guild leader doesn’t want to give R any sort of preferential treatment and expects him or her to show up just like everyone else does, but R’s girlfriend is getting more and more upset with how much time the guild demands of her partner. The situation between the couple has become so heated that the girlfriend has given R an ultimatum and wants to see her partner quit the game entirely.

There are more details to R’s tale, so check out the full submission below and my thoughts on the matter before you weigh in with your advice in the comments.

I am really lost because my girlfriend has given me an ultimatum and I don’t think it’s fair. She wants me to quit the MMO I play because she says I’m in way too deep and it’s affecting our relationship, even though I spend time with just her as often as possible and don’t go out much at all or take up other hobbies that take me away from her. I love my MMO and especially my guild because they gave me a chance to develop and are my best day-to-day friends. I talk to them on Discord for a couple hours a day and am very close to my guild leader S and all the regulars. We are even planning on meeting up some time, maybe for the holidays.

I only play for about 4 hours a day, which I don’t think is too much when I work only 20 hours a week and spend the rest of the time at home or with my girlfriend’s friends or doing what she wants to do. I don’t make her play too, and I don’t hog the TV or anything, so I don’t see the problem with having a little time for a hobby that’s just mine with just my own friends. I think she is jealous because I talk to S quite a bit but I’ve never met her, don’t know what she looks like, and she’s married. We have no romantic connection, and I love my girlfriend, but I don’t know if she respects that.

S has said that it wouldn’t be fair to let me do less guild events than everyone else, so I really have to play as much as I do if I want time to do my own thing as well as guild work, otherwise I will lose my spot. My girlfriend thinks S is trapping me and told me to quit before I lose her, but I don’t want to change anything right now. She says I have to, that her life goals mean we need to work on us more so we can build a better home and start a family. Do I really have to quit, though?

I really feel for you, R, and I hope that between my advice and the wealth of experience that you find in the comments section, we can set you on the right path. This is an exceptionally difficult case to weigh in on because the specific relationship dynamics that are happening aren’t something we will fully understand without knowing both of you or understanding the context of your girlfriend’s unhappiness. I’ll be honest and admit that, from your submission, I simply cannot pick apart whether the issue comes from jealousy, a genuine lack of attention being shown to your girlfriend, or perhaps even some external context that I don’t know about that is causing her so much insecurity. I can’t decide if the ultimatum is a controlling power play or is an act of desperation, but either way, it isn’t the most logical way to handle this situation in the first instance, and I want to help you work this out in a more healthy way.

Ultimata aren’t healthy

I have to tell you, R, that I am a little bit worried about you because of some of the points you mentioned in your submission. You say that your guildmates are your only circle of friends, and that combines rather negatively in my mind with the ultimatum to form a picture of a person who is perhaps being isolated from loved ones by your girlfriend because of some deep insecurity. This may not be your girlfriend’s intention at all, and please forgive me if I’m far off base and you simply happen to be a private person, but this is an avenue I want you to consider carefully before you dismiss it.

The type of controlling behaviours that isolate partners might give your girlfriend temporary relief from the insecurity she’s feeling, but the root of the problem isn’t being dealt with this way, and all that’s happening is that her security is being traded for your freedom. I am a firm believer that everyone should have a sphere of influence that lies beyond his or her partner: In my relationship, for example, I study, read, cheerlead for my university, and paint my nails, while my husband enjoys playing shooting games, cooking, anything to do with art, and trying new beers and ales with his friends. While we enjoy a great many shared hobbies, including MMOs, we also accept that we each need something that isn’t shared because we are two independent people.

I find myself agreeing with you that some jealousy could be at the core of the problem, but I don’t know your girlfriend and wouldn’t begin to assume to know the causes. This is where you need to examine the issue for yourself and compare it to the information you know about her past and present. Perhaps she has been cheated on in the past, or maybe she has attachment or abandonment issues that are influencing her behaviour. A candid conversation about how boxed in this ultimatum is making you feel, without being accusatory, could open the floodgates for her to share her thoughts on why it is so necessary.

Reach a consensual agreement and stick to it

I’m also going to put it out there that perhaps you chronically underestimate just how long you spend gaming, or maybe some of your behaviours give her some cause for concern. We’re all human and sometimes we can undervalue just how our actions can come across to other people, which can be rather hurtful. Maybe your conversations with S sound flirtatious without context, or perhaps you fob off a bit of housework to stay online for a while longer. Bear these small bad habits in mind while you piece together why your girlfriend feels the need for such a drastic ultimatum.

Have an offline day where you spend as long as it takes discussing the specifics with her: Making her justify her reasoning while avoiding any dismissive behaviour will help you better understand her perspective so you can formulate a more specific action plan that has more chance of success. If she tells you she feels ignored when she engages you in conversation while you’re playing, for example, you could suggest going headset-free and playing sound through speakers instead so you don’t get lost in that bubble.

If you have been underestimating the time spent online, perhaps set a schedule that makes you both comfortable and stick to it in order to achieve a good balance again. Your guild leader S will have to accept that you need to focus on your immediate relationships and you’ll need to insist on some flexibility, even if it means temporarily hanging up your spot. No good leader should control you to the point where your relationship has to suffer, so don’t feel guilty about making small changes to your schedule.

It could be the case that your girlfriend is feeling isolated because she is lacking in the hobby or friends department too, so she’s heavily relying on you for the large bulk of her emotional and social needs. Ensure that your agreement facilitates some positive time for your girlfriend as well: Perhaps you could assign some of your household budget to a hobby she always wanted to try, or contact her friends and arrange a nice get-together for them. If she is also free to express herself outside of your relationship, she will no doubt feel more at ease about your doing the same.

Introduce your girlfriend to your guildmates

I’ve already mentioned perhaps ditching the headset in favour of speakers, and I want to further suggest that you use this as an opportunity for your girlfriend to start getting to know your friends. I’m not saying she has to join your voice chat or start playing with you, but the odd interjection through your microphone or both of you laughing together over the guild’s antics could be good for both of you. If she gets to know who you’re talking to and hears even a snapshot of your general chit-chat, she’ll soon realise she has nothing to worry about. My husband started playing World of Warcraft because of the funny conversations and general silliness he accidentally got involved in through my guildmates shouting to him when they could hear him in the background, so connections can be made in this way.

I think it’s particularly important to introduce S to your girlfriend. It’ll be helpful from two perspectives: Firstly, it’ll allow your girlfriend to realise that your guild leader is not a romantic threat, and secondly, it means that S can’t ignore the fact that you have another focus in your life outside of the game. Your girlfriend may not be open to this if her issues do stem from your connection to S, but talking up your girlfriend to S in an introduction should warm her to the idea. Perhaps she just needs to hear you mention to S that you’re going offline to spend time with her to realise that you do prioritise your relationship and aren’t afraid to make that known.

Make your offline time count

The last thing you can do to maximise make your girlfriend feel more comfortable with your gaming is make the most of the time you spend together as a unit. Don’t feel tempted to log out of the game but sit on voice chat with your friends, for example, and pencil in together time that doesn’t revolve around the home and balancing domestic responsibilities. It can be very difficult to contextualise the difference between chatting with online friends and chatting with loved ones you live with: It could present a harsh comparison in your girlfriend’s head if you gripe about work stress and talk about bills with her and roar with laughter with your guild, so do remember that she is an equally engaging character as well as a key part your support network. She may not see this as you finding her easier to talk to about the difficult stuff and might misunderstand your behaviour as having far more fun with anyone but her.

Every couple has signature activities that they enjoy to do together, so take a minute to think of yours and use it to reignite the fun factor if it has been lacking. It could be as simple as visiting the park or as elaborate as a vacation; the activity itself doesn’t matter as much as doing it together without interference. You can also do very small things to assure her that you’re thinking about her even when you’re not together: Make her favourite meal or drink in gaming breaks, or bring her flowers home from work, “just-because.” Little acts of kindness keep the love going, after all, and if you combine a renewed focus on your girlfriend with more efficient, compacted gaming time, I’m sure you won’t have to quit the game you love for the woman you love.

Over to you!

I just wanted to leave a final warning for R: If your girlfriend’s behaviour escalates at all or the ultimatum is not removed from the table after a candid, adult conversation about the matter, it could be best to get professional advice. Controlling behaviour patterns can indicate or forewarn that a relationship is abusive, and I don’t want you to downplay that because it’s easier to quit the MMO than deal with the behaviour itself.

What do you think? Would you tackle the issue in a similar manner, or is an ultimatum being thrown at you a dealbreaker? Have you ever noticed that your gaming has been a problem in a relationship, and if so how did you correct it? Let R know your thoughts in the comments below.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

40 Comments on "Guild Chat: Dealing with the ‘it’s me or the MMO guild!’ ultimatum"

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Utakata

*DTMFA did come to my mind and pigtails while reading this…

…which makes me very glad Tina is the columnist for this and not myself! :(

*Note: NSFW if you Google-fu it.

Reader
Utakata

Edit/PS; To be fair though, I would be looking for a new guild too.

Either way, I have issues when entities start cramping my personal time. It’s why I don’t date and/or have joined a raid guild. My bad. :(

DeadlyAccurate
Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
DeadlyAccurate

If you’re conflicted between a girlfriend and a game, the girlfriend may not be the right person for you. I love games; they’re my primary hobby. But I would never choose a game over a person unless I just didn’t care about the person.

Reader
Alex Malone

It sounds to me like your girlfriend has a life-plan in mind and that your current lifestyle doesn’t fit with what she’s got planned. The fact that she’s given you an ultimatum also makes it sound like this has probably been a problem for a while, that you’ve probably discussed it before and made various promises but not managed to keep them. You are not in a good situation! My advice:

1) Talk to her

If she’s giving you an ultimatum, she’s pissed. Even if you don’t change anything, you need to sit down and talk like adults. Acknowledge her feelings and her fears, even if you disagree with them. Find out what the underlying cause is: is it jealousy over your guild leader? is it fear that she can’t achieve her life goals? Is it just controlling behaviour? Perhaps she views gaming as a waste of time and is simply worried about you wasting your life. Find out! You need to arm yourself with knowledge before making changes.

2) Assert your personal power

This may sound sexist, but you need to assert yourself and retain your personal power. From the sounds of it, you don’t really have much else going on in your life apart from MMOs and your girlfriend. If you quit MMOs, your life will end up revolving around your girlfriend. That is even more unhealthy than where you are now. Your girlfriend does not want a boyfriend who is dependant on her, she wants a man who can take care of his own needs whilst also providing for her. Stand up for yourself, just remember to retain your integrity whilst acknowledging her feelings. If you become too passive or submissive (even though that appears to be what she’s asking for), she will stop being attracted to you.

3) Make compromises

There will be a middle-ground somewhere that meets both your needs. Perhaps you could switch guilds to something less strict? Perhaps join a guild operating in a more suitable timezone, so that you can have more quality time with your girlfriend?

4) Make improvements in the rest of your life

My expectation is that your girlfriend is operating from a position of fear – she likes your company and you had fun together in the past, but now she’s thinking of the future. She looks at you and can’t help but wonder if she’s wasting time. You only work 20 hours a week and spend most of your free time playing a computer game. The rest of the time you follow her around. At this point in time, you are not good husband / father material! Right now, you’re an overgrown child.

I would highly recommend that you start making improvements in the rest of your life. Instead of going out with her friends, go out with yours. Start exercising, be it at the gym or a new hobby. Get a decent, full time job and communicate your ambitions to your girlfriend. All these things will start to show her that you’re a man and that you’re going places. This will allay her fears about the future you may have together and you’ll probably find she will stop caring about you playing MMOs.

Reader
John Mckenna

Hey bud im sooooo sorry but from what i read you spend 20 hours per week working and 4 per day playing mmo and tge rest spent with your partner. Well heare it is i am married and work 86 hours per week and i am on my ps4 running my tribe on ark and several clans on other games of which my wife is part of whom also agrees that the situation you are in is beong blown way out of proportion we both feel that your partner is just Attention seeking we have seen this in our friends before and it is completely wrong so if i were you i would sit her down and find out the true reasons for her behaviour obviously there may be something you have not told us but if there isnt thats your best option or try and get her to play with you also as a guild, tribe and clan owner i feel your leader is being way too strict with there rules and needs to be more lenient with her members

Reader
silverlock

Has she ever interfered with your relationship with your family? If she’s trying to isolate you that’s an extremely bad sign. That being said if your thinking of starting a family theirs no way you can stay with your current guild, trust me a baby can’t wait till you’ve finished off the last raid boss, but their are lots of more casual guilds that understand that a crying baby comes first. The ultimatum thing kind of sucks no matter how you look at it, I can’t help but wonder if she is getting bad advice from family or friends.

Reader
socontrariwise

I disagree with quite a few things said here by Tina for the particular situation.
What we know:
1) R works only 20 hours a week. Question: How much money does he earn that way, just barely enough to survive? How old is R?
2) R chats 4 hour each day with his guildies, that is 28 hours a week. Question: Is there extra time for playing besides that?
3) R has a girl friend who says they have to work on the relationship to build a better home and have a family, this are her life goals. Question: Is R interested to have a family and looking to get the financial and emotional foundation to make that realistic?

What I read here is that someone who likely makes a bare minimum and spends a lot of time on a hobby (more than at work) is not willing to get down to lay the foundation for a serious relationship with kids and financial backing. He needs to start thinking if he wants to have a child with her and soon and what it will take them to get to the kind of relationship she is requesting. Couples therapy might be a good start to communicate THIS topic and stop focusing on the dummy conflict (loosing his “spot” in his guild).
It is a very common human thing to pretend you argue about one thing while you simply avoid to dealing with the elephant in the room.

So to R: Show your girl friend the courtesy and respect she deserves and discuss how you anticipate the future to look like. Not the fuzzy long term future but: getting engaged or married, having a kid, ensuring you can provide for it. Because that is what I read she is asking for and you skirt around it.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
mistressbrazen

Definitely time for the two grown-ups to sit down and try to speak to each other frankly, identify their individual points of view as to the root of the conflict, and decide whether compromise can be reached. The gravest issue is not whether four hours with the guild is too much, but rather whether their relationship is mature enough to work through the conflict.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

If he works 20 hours a week and plays the game 4 hours per day, he already spends more time playing the game with his guildmates than working. Even more if the couple hours in Discord he says he spends daily happen outside game hours; that would likely make the MMO guild the single thing he spends more time with.

I don’t know about everyone else, but if I was intent on starting a family with someone else, and that someone spent more time playing a game as if it was a job than at his or her actual job, I would get creeped out too.

So, not really unexpected that this would happen. And from the description I can’t even decide who is being unreasonable; ultimatums should not be issued unless there is no other choice, but sometimes they are needed so you can ditch something (or someone) that wasn’t working out and get on with your life.

Reader
Roger Edwards

Ah, a classic conundrum.

If you have a substantial private income, no work, family or relationship commitments, then you can game until the proverbial cows come home. Furthermore, you will not be walking over anyone elses feelings. Not only can you hang with your guildies all the live long day, you can do so with a sense of moral rectitude. No one is suffering as a result of your indulgences.

However, for all us lesser mortals, life does not allow us to game continuously. We all have to interact and share are time with other carbon-based life forms. If you want to be considered a functional member of society and not a douche bag, then it’s good form to “compromise”. You may not want to. You may not like to. But that’s what separates us from the animal kingdom and ensures a relatively stable society.

Now this particular case is lacking in detail. Therefore, I won’t arbitrarily say that party A or party B is a selfish git. However, the question does have a whiff of wanting one’s cake and eating it. There are 24 hours in a day. You like to game. You like to be in a relationship. If you want both then an equitable balance has to be found. If you can’t then something has to give.

Reader
Sakariye Ali

Why do most people see it as just a “Game”? This is in the same League as your GF telling you to leave your soccer club. Or to stop associating with your closest Friends.

I can just honestly tell you to ditch your GF. You’re a Gamer it is a Part of your Character as much as anything else and if she can’t deal with that and instead tries to change you into something you are not then just ditch her.
If you let her change you then it won’t just stop there. She’ll keep making demands for you to change into someone you aren’t and when you are “Perfect” she’ll leave you because you arent the guy she fell in love with anymore.
Alternatively you can also call her out on her behaviour maybe she’ll notice what she’s doing and stop or maybe she’s just bluffing.