5 lessons video games can teach us about love and dating

Jun 3, 2016

5 Lessons Video Games Can Teach Us About Love and Dating

When it comes to sex and dating, most of my clients want the “cheat code.” They want to know how to level up their dating game so that they can win big. Everyone wants the secret to go from zero to hero and find the princess or prince they’ve been searching for that is somehow always in another castle.

While there may not be something as simple as the Konami code for real life, I think that video games can teach us 5 important lessons about how to succeed in sex and relationships.

1) Don’t button mash

When you first try to play a game like Mortal Kombat, it can be super tempting to just mash the buttons and rush in until something happens. While this strategy can be successful for a few fights, as the difficulty level gets higher and the opponents more challenging it tends to be less and less effective.

In the dating world, lots of mainstream “pick up artist” tricks are the equivalent of button mashing, especially if you want anything other than casual sex. Can you “neg” someone into bed? Sure, it’ll work on SOMEONE. But the likelihood that the person you can neg into bed will be a good fit for you for any longer than that night is exceedingly small.

To be successful, we all reached that point where we had to stop button mashing and finally figure out some strategy. That might mean better understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the character you’re playing – if you’re playing a character with high agility like Kitana your strategy will look different than if you’re playing a brute force character like Goro. You might also spend time practicing putting together combos or executing special moves (word up to Baraka’s brutal Fatalaties).

In the dating world, this means you need to understand what you as a specific person bring to the table. Are you funny? Super caring? Handy around the house? Great at listening? Are you someone who is great at starting a conversation? Dancing? What are your strongest stats and how can you make the most of them? The strategies that will work for you are going to be different than the strategies that work for other people because you are different from other people. If you spend time trying to be (or seem like) someone else, you’ll end up getting to a certain point in a relationship and then having to come clean about who you ACTUALLY are. Save yourself the heartache and lead with the real you.

2) You’re not going to stand a chance against the big boss until you level up

In the good old days, video games very rarely threw you an opponent you didn’t have the levels and gear to beat. That's not the case anymore.  These days, if you’re just starting Final Fantasty XII at Level 1 with default gear, the likelihood of beating that Level 30ish Wild Saurion in the desert is pretty low. Can it happen? Sure, anything is possible; you could get theoretically get a Zodiac Spear in the first chest you open. But without a crazy rare game glitch like that, you need to spend some time killing low level enemies first to get the XP you need to level up your skills and the money you need for good gear.

In dating, it’s unlikely you’re going to go from someone who has never had a date to a Casanova wooing dozens of people overnight. If you’ve only ever had a handful of sexual experiences, your skills may not be up to par or you may not even really know yet what you like and what works for you.

So rather than trying to defeat that dragon with your wooden sword, take some time in the woods level grinding. In the dating world, this can be practicing asking people out or going on lots of first dates. You might want to look into classes on communication skills or sexual skills so that you can make sure you have a good knowledge base. If you’re feeling brave, you can ask friends of yours (preferably of the gender[s] you want to date) for some feedback about how you’re doing right now in terms of asking people out or having a conversation.

In addition, don’t expect that every person you ask out or are interested in will feel the same; instead of focusing on “success” vs. “failure,” think of this as a period of practice and experimentation. Tried going up to a person in a bar and that didn’t work for you? Great! Now you know that the approach you tried needs some tweaking or it might not be the right fit for you.

3) Relearn the controls

When you play different games, even if they’re all first person shooters, the controls are going to be different. The same button can be reload in one game and throw a grenade in another and no one likes blowing themselves up when they meant to replenish their ammo. If you’re smart, you take some time when you switch games, or get a new game, to practice the controls for that game. You don’t assume that everything will be the same because it’s not – they’re different games.

In dating and sex, the same holds true – what works really well with one person may blow up in your face with a different one. Even though two people might share the same gender presentation or private parts, that doesn’t mean the same techniques or approach will have the same effect.

So when you’re meeting someone new, or switching between established partners, remember to take some time to learn or re-learn the controls. "But how do you know what works with people?" you're asking yourself . . . Ask them!

There’s nothing hotter than a lover who touches you exactly how you want to be touched in that moment. So, unless you’re Professor X, you probably need to ask your partner questions in order to find out what they want right then. Ask what their fantasies are and tell them yours. Watch porn together or send each other erotica that you like. Take the time to really familiarize yourself with this person in front of you before you before you try to jump into the heat of battle (sex).

4) Don’t try to rush the re-spawn

I was playing Tomb Raider recently and I was trying to figure out the order I had to do a certain set of actions to solve a puzzle in a tomb and I kept messing it up. Every time I failed, I had to leave the tomb and come back in. I can’t even tell you how frustrating that got or how many times I tried to just make it work anyway. But while leaving and returning to re-set the puzzle sucked, if I had just stayed in there upset that things weren’t working I would never have gotten it.

Dating can be like this too: we get frustrated that something hasn’t worked so we try that same thing HARDER or MORE or LONGER hoping it’ll change. Realistically, you need to know when to walk away and just let things re-spawn so you can start over.

Did you try to approach someone at a club and they turned you down? Don’t turn around to the next available person and try the exact same line on them. Did you just have a break up? Rushing right into the next available option is unlikely to be fruitful.

When something doesn’t work, take some time. Walk away. Think about it. Give yourself a breather. Then, once you feel like things have reset, go back in and try again. Maybe you need a new strategy or maybe you need a new person, but whatever it is, wait for the re-spawn.

5) You and your friends don’t have to play all the same games

I am SUPER into Cook, Serve, Delicious. Something about the combination of high paced stress and food and achievements that come quickly really does it for me. I love the friends I know who also play it because they understand the struggle of soup once you’ve started really leveling it up and it’s rush hour. But some of my friends don’t love CSD, for whatever reason. They’re obviously wrong (kidding, mostly), but just because CSD works for me doesn’t mean it’ll hit the sweet spot for someone else.

In the dating world, what works great for your friends may be a disaster for you. I’m personally solo poly and that style fits me like a glove. One of my close friends is monogamous and that style is perfect for her. But if I tried to be monogamous just because she is, I would feel miserable and probably fail. And if she tried solo poly? Well let’s just say I don’t think she’d fare much better.

Whichever games you’re into are totally awesome for you. Whichever games your friends are into are totally awesome for them. Maybe there’s a lot of overlap, maybe there’s not, but that doesn’t mean that you need to force yourself to play their games just because they do. It also doesn’t mean that yours are any “better” or “worse” (except for CSD of course).

The same is true of relationships – what works great for your best friend may not be your style. Give yourself the space to figure out what DOES work for you. Are you someone who likes to date a lot of people at the start then narrow down? Do you prefer to date one person at a time? Are you into monogamy or some form of non-monogamy? Take the time to make sure you’ve found your right fit so that you don’t waste time playing a game you’re not even really that into.

In closing

Just like anyone can eventually acquire the skills needed to beat a game, anyone can acquire the skills needed to be successful in love and sex. Do you need some help? Contact me. I'm happy to help folks find a way to level up their game.

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