I Want to Know What Love Is – Relationship Cheat Code #1

Today I am going to delve into an aspect of what I consider the “mind games” of being in a committed long-term relationship.

There is a lot of negative connotation associated with “head games” as Foreigner put so well “We try and find the answer, but it’s nowhere in sight.”

However, I believe gamification can act as another tool in your belt for finding these elusive answers.

Just like a partner in Tennis, or Super Smash we have to start with a trust that we each have the same goal in mind.  We practice techniques like “don’t walk away from a fight,” and “never go to bed angry.”  Not to say that these tactics should work for everyone, but when applied with our “team composition” the results have been positive.

The navigational complexities of two similar, yet also different minds existing in such close proximity can be strenuous.  Because of similar reasons I mentioned in a previous blog post about mutual understanding we can keep discussions about this tricky topic light.  Even if she spends more time beating me at board games than working with me in online battle royals.

Which is why I refer to this arena as another liberal application of the word “game.”  Using the lens gamification supplies can help provide a more lighthearted, and collaborative perspective for building a great relationship.

I think this can apply to any relationship, not just romantic or long-term.

Knowing when to attempt to solve a problem, or just commiserate is one technique I have been working on that just recently had a bit of peer reviewed support.  More technically speaking, providing more emotional support in place of an overabundance of informational support.

Hows about a quick scenario:

Your partner comes home from work and is fuming about the intern.

“I watched them finish the water cooler, and never replace it!”

Should your response be:
A. Did you ask them to replace it?  Perhaps they just need to be told once.
B. What a lazy bum!
C. Next time they do that, grab the empty barrel and beat them with it!

If you said A, you are not providing emotional support.  That may be a reasonable solution to the problem, but did you presume this thought never crossed their mind?  Even C was more likely to help if you have a partner with a good sense of humor.

It is far more likely that the intern has been making many little errors, just like this, that result in minor inconveniences, and your partner either doesn’t have the authority to chastise them, or is simply exhausted from doing so.

Establishing that you understand their feelings can be grounding.  It may seem silly to some, but sometimes it is nice to be reminded that we are all humans, and our emotions are not out of the ordinary.  That alone could be all it takes.

In fact, too much informational support can cause negative consequences.  No matter how good your intentions.

If asked point blank for more solutions, by all means go ahead!  But at least in the case of newly weds, it is more likely that there is plenty of informational support, and we need to work on the emotional side of things.

It can be a bit counter-intuitive that saying something of little consequence like “That sucks” could be the most useful response you could give.  As with all things, practice makes perfect.

-James Schoenster
Co-founder of Cerebral Cellar



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